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MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D. 
PIONEER AND MARTYR 



CLIFFORD MERRILL DRURY, PH.D. 

AUTHOR OP 

HENRY HARMON SPALDING 
PIONEER OP OLD OREGON 




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COPYRIGHT 1937 BY 

THE CAXTON PRINTERS, LTD. 

GALDWELL. IDAHO 





Printed, lithographed, and bound in the United States of America by 

The CAXTON PRINTERS, Ltd. 

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50316 



TO MIRIAM 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

SUCH a work as this is impossible without the interested 
co-operation of many people, and I hereby wish to ac- 
knowledge my indebtedness to the following institutions and 
individuals : 

Whitman College Dr. Stephen B. L. Penrose, Dr. H. S. Brode, 

and Prof. Melvin Jacobs. 
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions 

Dr. Enoch Bell and Miss Dorothy Cole. 
Washington State College Dr. E. A. Holland and Mr. W. W. 

Foote. 
Oregon Historical Society Miss Nellie Pipes and Miss Irene 

Upson. 

Dr. F. C. Waite, Cleveland, Ohio. 
Dean J. G. Eldridge, Moscow, Idaho. 
Mr. Robert Moody, Rushville, New York. 
Miss Charlotte Howe, Prattsburg, New York. 
Dr. T. C. Elliott, Walla Walla, Washington. 
Dr. T. C. Pears, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 
Mrs. Earl David, Moscow, Idaho. 
Miss Eleona Underwood, Salt Lake City, Utah. 
Mr. Charles Kelly, Salt Lake City, Utah. 
Mrs. Ruth Karr McKee, Grand Coulee, Washington. 
Dr. Hugh Moran, Ithaca, New York. 
Dr. A. H. Limouze, New York City, New York. 
Miss Martha Barrett, Evanston, Illinois. 

I am also indebted to the following libraries and wish to express 
my appreciation for courtesies received from staff members: 

University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho. 

University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. 

University of California (Bancroft Library), Berkeley, 

California. 

Congressional Library, Washington, D. C. 
Hammond Library, Chicago Theological Seminary, Chicago, 

Illinois. 

Cornell Library, Ithaca, New York. 
Spokane Public Library, Spokane, Washington. 

Some courtesies have been acknowledged in the footnotes. To all 
others whose names I have not mentioned but who have rendered valued 
assistance, I wish again to say : "Thank you." 

C. M. DBURY. 



FOREWORD 

UNTIL Dr. Clifford M. Drury's critical mind and facile 
pen clothed Henry Harmon Spalding, Marcus Whitman, 
and Elkanah Walker with life and action, they were shadowy 
historical figures about whom tradition was already weaving 
a veil of unreliable romance. 

The centennial of the Whitman-Spalding heroic journey 
to Oregon gave rise to Dr. Drury's valuable biography of 
Henry Harmon Spalding, which is based on an intelligent 
and discriminating study of the available sources and will 
bear the tests of the most rigid canon of historical criticism. 
As a result the real Spalding with all his faults and virtues 
stands revealed as an intriguing frontier personality. 

But the volume on Spalding left many questions about the 
Oregon Country unsettled. It was highly necessary that Dr. 
Drury, having reintroduced Spalding to the American 
people, should proceed to interpret his superior co-laborer, 
Dr. Marcus Whitman, for their better understanding of the 
Oregon question. 

This physician, missionary, pioneer, and national expan- 
sionist was a product of the first generation of pioneer set- 
tlers who rushed into western New York from New England 
after the Revolution. He was the son of Beza Whitman, six 
generations removed from his immigrant ancestor who 
arrived in Massachusetts in 1638. Born in Rushville, New 
York, in 1802, and educated in Massachusetts and New York, 
Marcus Whitman was awarded his M.D. at the age of thirty. 
After eight years of practice in Canada, Pennsylvania, and 
at Wheeler, New York, he offered his services to the Ameri- 
can Board for Foreign Missions, and was sent West in 1835 
with Samuel Parker to scout the Oregon region. Dr. Drury, 
after careful gleanings from printed sources, manuscripts, 
and aged persons still living, which necessitated extensive 
travels in the United States and Canada, has reconstructed 
for the first time this significant early period of Whitman's 
life, showing him to be an industrious, persistent, bright boy 
and young man with a pious strain and a pleasing personality. 
Some of the same New England influences cultural, reli- 
gious and social that moulded the mind of William Cullen 
Bryant and John Brown, likewise moulded young Marcus 
Whitman. 



8 FOREWORD 

Although inclined towards the ministry, upon attaining 
his majority he began "riding with Doctor Bryant," of 
Rushville, a distant cousin of William Cullen Bryant. Dr. 
Drury has discovered new sources bearing on Whitman's 
medical studies, thus correcting a number of errors in 
previous accounts. He shows that while studying with Dr. 
Bryant, Whitman also taught school, and worked in a shoe- 
shop, a tannery, and a sawmill. 

In 1830 Whitman gave up the practice of medicine for 
a time and began a -preparatory course for the ministry; 
but only for a year, because in 1831 he re-entered the medical 
college at Fairfield, New York, and received his degree the 
next year as a full-fledged physician. 

Not the least important portion of this book is the new 
interpretation of the life of Narcissa Prentiss, Whitman's 
plucky wife, a personality of charm, lively intelligence, and 
loyalty. The author has woven together out of many scraps 
of information her biographical sketch, making it one of 
unusual interest. The passion of Henry Harmon Spalding 
for Narcissa, which left embarrassments for both of them, 
is handled with strict truthfulness and a satisfying thor- 
oughness. Her devotion to her husband and to the cause they 
both served, in the midst of extraordinary hardships, runs 
like a golden thread throughout the volume from her mar- 
riage in 1836 to her tragic death eleven years later. 

This volume presents in detail the life of a man whose 
outstanding traits were physical vigor, persistence, courage, 
self-reliance, resourcefulness, and optimism. He gladly de- 
voted his life to a great cause with zeal and faithfulness. If 
his judgment was not always reliable, his heart was. A typi;- 
cal pioneer with a dynamic body, he will be remembered not 
so much as a physician or a missionary as an American 
empire builder. Dr. Drury has written the fullest and the 
most accurate life of Whitman. The material is well or- 
ganized, the presentation is judicial, the style is dignified 
and yet sympathetic. Controversial questions are handled 
impartially, and the conclusions are based on solid founda- 
tions. As a study in American pioneer heroism the book 
should be read by every citizen of the nation. 

In 1936 Archer B. Hulbert and Dorothy P. Hulbert in 
their MARCUS WHITMAN, CRUSADER (Vol. 6 of the series, 
Overland to the Pacific) published a valuable collection of 
primary sources dealing with Dr. Marcus Whitman. In- 
terested readers will find his letters printed in full in that 



FOREWORD 9 

work, when completed. Dr. Drury found and used 115 Dr. 
Whitman letters and 107 of Mrs. Whitman's letters. He 
includes in the Appendices a survey of the literature on "The 
Whitman Controversy," which lists all the earlier writers 
and also modern contributions like those of Professor Her- 
bert D. Winters, of Keuka College, Keuka Park, New York ; 
and a hitherto unprinted, illuminating letter on the Whit- 
mans by the Rev. H. K. W. Perkins, who knew them well. 
The bibliography of printed books, pamphlets, and articles 
in periodicals is exhaustive. The numerous illustrations, 
all visual sources, add to the attractiveness and value of the 
book. All in all the volume is one to satisfy the scholarly 
historian and to inform the general reader. 

It is gratifying to know that the trilogy of Oregon 
pioneers will be completed by the author with a biography 
of Elkanah Walker. 

ALEXANDER C. FLICK, 

May 25, 1937. State Historian of New York. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

PAGE 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 6 

FOREWORD 7 

CHAPTER 

I. THE FIRST EIGHTEEN YEARS 1802-1820 19 

The Ancestry of Marcus Whitman; Birth and Early 
Life of Marcus Whitman; Ten Years in Massachusetts. 

II. WHITMAN'S MEDICAL TRAINING 1820-1832 35 

"Riding" with Dr. Bryant; Whitman at Fairfield; The 
Next Five Years; Whitman in Canada; He Returns to 
Rushville ; He Returns to Fairfield. 

III. THREE YEARS AT WHEELER 1832-1835 54 

"Esteemed as a ... Christian"; "Well Qualified ... as a 
Missionary Physician"; Samuel Parker; Whitman Is 
Appointed. 

IV. NARCISSA PRENTISS 1808-1835 72 

Ancestry and Birth; Narcissa's Parents; Narcissa's 
Spiritual Experiences; Narcissa's Education; "Are 
Females Wanted?" They Plight Their Troth. 

V. To THE ROCKIES 1835 92 

Parker and Whitman; Whitman's Journal; Cholera; 
Bellevue to the Rendezvous; At the Rendezvous; The 
Return Trip. 

VI. WHITMAN Is MARRIED 1836 112 

The Spaldings; Narcissa and Marcus Are Married; 
Their Personal Appearance. 

VII. THE TRIP TO OREGON 1836 133 

Final Instructions; Thomsonianism ; St. Louis to Lib- 
erty; Liberty to the Otoe Agency; On the March; At 
the Rendezvous; Travel Experiences; Fort Vancouver. 

VIII. WAIILATPU 1836-1837 158 

The Whitman Station Located; The Spalding Station 
Located; The Women at Vancouver; The Waiilatpu 
Home; Food Supplies; Religious Activities; Alice 
Clarissa. 



12 TABLE OF CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

IX. THE VERSATILE DOCTOR 1837-1838 177 

Whitman the Doctor; Whitman the Farmer; Whitman 
the Teacher; Eliza Spalding Born; The Adobe House; 
McLoughlin Visits Walla Walla; William Cameron 
McKay; Jason Lee; Madame Dorion; The Summer of 
1838. 

X. A YEAR OF ADJUSTMENTS 1838-1839 199 

Financial Problems; Men in the Kitchen; Tucannon; 
Mission Business; Alice Clarissa Whitman. 

XL THAT MAN SPALDING 1839-1840 224 

The Independent Missionaries; The Mission House; 
Farnham's Visit; Mission Work; Discord; The First 
Wagons to the Columbia; "The Man Who Came With 

Us." 

XII. DISCOURAGEMENTS 1840-1841 242 

The Winter of 1840-41; The Spring of 1841; The An- 
nual Meeting of 1841 ; The Summer of 1841. 

XIII. SPALDING Is DISMISSED 1841-1842 258 

Trouble with the Indians ; The Old Quarrel Again ; The 
Spring of 1842; The Annual Meeting of 1842; Dr. 
Elijah White; The Fateful Order; Whitman Leaves 
for Boston. 

XIV. "SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD" 1842-1843 281 

Dr. White's Conference; The Winter of 1842-43; Dr. 
White Returns to Waiilatpu; The Summer of 1843. 

XV. WHITMAN RIDES 1842-1843 294 

Political Developments; The Trip to Washington; 
Whitman's Visit to New York and Boston. 

XVI. "WESTWARD HO" 1843 321 

Whitman Returns to Rushville; Back to Westport; The 
Emigrants Gather; "Travel, Travel, Travel"; Wagons 
West; An Appraisal. 

XVII. A CHANGING OREGON 1843-1846 346 

1843-1846; 1843-1844; 1844-1845; 1845-1846. 

XVIII. THE LAST YEAR 1846-1847 369 

The Emigration of 1846 ; The Winter of 1846-1847 ; The 
Spring and Summer of 1847; The Coming of the Catho- 
lics; The Emigration of 1847; Last Letters; Crowded 
Waiilatpu. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 13 

CHAPTER PAGE 

XIX. THE MASSACRE 1847 390 

The Last Week; The Massacre; The Fate of Others. 

THE EPILOGUE 412 

Capture of the Murderers; The Inventory; Oregon Ter- 
ritory Created; Why Did It Happen?; Monuments, Me- 
morials, Relics. 

APPENDICES 429 

1. Whitman Correspondence 431 

2. A Financial Summary 442 

3. The Cause of Whitman's Ride 443 

4. The Whitman Controversy 447 

5. Eyewitness Accounts of the Massacre and of 

the Captivity 456 

6. Letter of the Rev. H. K. W. Perkins to Miss 

Jane Prentiss '. 458 

BIBLIOGRAPHY 461 

INDEX 467 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Statue of Whitman on Witherspoon Building Frontispiece 

Facing Page 

A Page from the Bible of Beza and Alice Whitman Sister and 
Brothers of Marcus Whitman Moses Hallock's Home The 
Plainfield Church Marcus Whitman's Mother 24 

Two Views of Rushville Congregational Church Whitman's 

Home in Rushville, New York 36 

One of Whitman's Medical Tickets Used at Fairfield Academy 
Fairfield Academy Whitman's Professors at the Fairfield 
Medical College 44 

A Page from the Catalog of the Fairfield Medical College 
Another Page from the Catalog of the Fairfield Medical 
College 42 

Whitman's Medical License The Record of Whitman's Gradu- 
ation Thesis 52 

Saddlebags Used by Whitman at Wheeler, New York Whit- 
man's Medical Office at Wheeler, New York 56 

Presbyterian Manse at Prattsburg, New York Birthplace of 
Narcissa Prentiss 72 

Mrs. Narcissa Prentiss Whitman Brother and Sister of Nar- 
cissa Prentiss Whitman 80 

Narcissa's Letter of Application Whitman's Commission '. 88 

Merrill Mission Home 96 

The Inn at Howard, New York Whitman's Letter to the Board 
Announcing Marriage 120 

James Bridger and Joseph L. Meek Whitman's Expense Account 140 

Pioneer Hudson's Bay Company Officials and the Steamer 
Beaver 156 

Ground Floor Plan of the Whitman Home at Waiilatpu Henry 
Harmon Spalding 216 

William H. Gray The Whitman Mission 232 

Resolution Adopted by Oregon Mission Regarding Spalding's 
Dismissal 268 

Assassination of Marcus Whitman Plan of the Mission House 
Murderers of Marcus Whitman Assassination of Marcus 
Whitman 400 

Whitman Relics in Whitman College Museum Three Whitman 

Relics Tomahawk owned by Oregon Historical Society 408 

Page from the Whitman Family Bible 412 

Sarah Minthorn Hymn of Our Sires 416 

Grave of Marcus Whitman (early views) Grave of Marcus 
Whitman (recent views) 424 



MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D. 
PIONEER AND MARTYR 



CHAPTER ONE 

THE FIRST EIGHTEEN YEARS 

1802-1820 

IN THE latter part of November, 1834, a cultured Congre- 
gational minister made his way in a light wagon over the 
muddy roads of Steuben and Allegany Counties in western 
New York. He was on a strange mission, for he was seeking 
missionaries to go to the Indians beyond the Rocky Moun- 
tains. Incidentally, he collected such money as he could to 
support the mission. 

That man was the Rev. Samuel Parker 1 (1779-1855). 
While pastor of the Congregational church at Middlefield, 
Massachusetts, he had read in the March 1, 1833, issue of 
the New York Christian Advocate the thrilling story of the 
arrival in St. Louis of four Indians from beyond the Rockies 
who sought the white man's Bible and Christian teachers. 
Parker was then fifty-four years old and had a wife and 
three children, yet he dared to dream of going himself to 
the Pacific Coast in response to the Macedonian appeal. It 
was a bold plan, for no missionary had yet made the hazard- 
ous trip over the Continental Divide. 

The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Mis- 
sions, 2 to whom Parker applied, felt that he was too old to go 
and treated his offer with some coldness. But Parker was 
not to be discouraged. He persisted even to the point of 
raising sufficient funds in the First Presbyterian Church of 
Ithaca, New York, to guarantee the mission. In the spring 
of 1834, with the permission of the Board, Parker and two 
associates left for the Rocky Mountains. 

In those days professional men wore a fine type of top- 
hat made of beaver skins. The beaver hat was a sign of 
prosperity or elegance and remained in style until after the 



1 The Rev. Samuel Parker did not have a doctor's degree. He had a 
son, Samuel J. Parker, M.D., who was known as Dr. Parker. 

2 Sometimes referred to as the A.B.C.F.M. Organized in 1812 with 
the Congregational and the Presbyterian Churches co-operating from 
1826 until 1837, at which time the Old School branch of the Presby- 
terian Church withdrew. The New School branch withdrew in 1870. 
The Dutch Reformed and the German Reformed Churches also co- 
operated in the Board for many years. 



20 MAECUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Civil War. One of the chief sources of supply of beaver skins 
was the Rocky Mountain area. Enterprising fur companies, 
with headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, sent hundreds of 
men into the mountains to trap the fur-bearing animals. 
Each summer a caravan would carry supplies from civiliza- 
tion to these mountain men. The caravan would meet the 
trappers at an appointed place, not always the same from 
year to year, but usually west of the Continental Divide, 
called "the rendezvous." After exchanging the supplies for 
the beaver skins, the caravan would return to St. Louis. 

Parker and his companions had planned to cross the 
plains and the mountains under the protection of the cara- 
van, for it was not safe to go without escort. However, 
Parker reached St. Louis too late to go with the caravan. 
He left his two companions to begin missionary work among 
the Pawnee Indians, and he returned to look for more 
workers. 

Thus it was that the late fall of 1834 found Samuel 
Parker holding missionary meetings in western New York, 
where, some twenty-five years earlier, he had begun his 
ministry. He noticed that the settlements had grown. Large 
areas had been cleared and were under cultivation. Some 
of the churches which he had founded had reached the stage 
of self-support, and were promising sources of gifts of both 
money and lives for the Oregon mission cause. 

Parker paused one day in the little village of Wheeler, 
Steuben County, where he held missionary meetings. He 
issued his appeal for funds and for that which was more 
important than funds missionaries. 

Among his hearers was a country doctor, then thirty-two 
years old, who told Mr. Parker that he was willing to go if 
the Board should see fit to send him. The doctor mentioned 
the fact that he had offered his services to the Board the 
previous June, but had been rejected because of poor health. 
Learning that the doctor's physical condition was much 
improved, Parker advised him to try again. 

Parker continued his journey and a few days later spoke 
at Angelica, in the neighboring county of Allegany. There 
he repeated his missionary appeal. Among his hearers was 
a charming young woman, twenty-six years of age, from 
the near-by village of Amity (now known as Belmont) , who 
likewise offered to go. 3 Mr. Parker was not sure that the 



3 Bath Plaindealer, Dec. 31, 1892, article by Dr. Samuel J. Parker: 
'At Wheeler, Steuben County, a young physician came to him after one 



THE FIRST EIGHTEEN YEARS 21 

Board would appoint "unmarried females," but he promised 
to make inquiry. 

Writing to his family from Franklmville, Cattaraugus 
County, just west of Allegany, on December 5, 1834, Parker 
first described his fatiguing ride over the muddy roads and 
then referred to the success of his trip. "I have found some 
missionaries," he wrote. "Dr. Whitman, of Wheeler, Steu- 
ben County, New York, has agreed to offer himself to the 
Board to go beyond the mountains. He has no family. Two 
ladies offer themselves, one a daughter of Judge Prentiss of 
Amity, Alleghany County." 4 The name of the judge's daugh- 
ter was Narcissa. 

Although Parker did not realize the full significance of 
the drama then in its preliminary stages, we now know that 
one of his greatest services to the cause of both church and 
state was to find these two characters and to interest them 
in Old Oregon. 5 

THE ANCESTRY OP MARCUS WHITMAN 

Following the Revolutionary War a restless urge sent 
many New Englanders over the Alleghenies into what was 
then known as the Connecticut Western Reserve, which 
included what is now northeastern Ohio. Among these was 
a young man who bore the unusual name of Beza Whitman. 
Beza was of the sixth generation of the descendants of John 
Whitman, who arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony 
some time prior to December, 1638, 6 and settled at Wey- 
mouth, some twelve miles south of Boston. It is believed that 
John Whitman came from Norfolk, England, where the 
family name was originally spelt Whiteman. 

Samuel Lincoln, the ancestor of Abraham Lincoln, came 
to the same colony also from Norfolk, England, in 1637, or 
at about the same time as did John Whitman. Lincoln set- 
tled at Salem, Massachusetts. One of his sons, Mordecai, 
married Sarah Whitman Jones, the granddaughter of John 
Whitman. Their son Mordecai, was the great-great-grand- 



of the meetings." "My father said that at a meeting held at Angelica or 
Amity, probably the former, a young lady " 

4 W.C.Q., Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 12-13. 

5 Oregon Territory included the present states of Washington, Ore- 
gon, Idaho, and those parts of Montana and Wyoming west of the 
Continental Divide. 

6 Farnham, History of the Descendants of John Whitman. 



22 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

father of Abraham Lincoln. It is of interest to note that the 
martyred President and the martyred pioneer-missionary of 
Old Oregon were both descendants of John Whitman. 

Beza Whitman was born May 13, 1773, at Bridgewater, 
Massachusetts, the son of Samuel. During the years 1765 
to 1780, many of the residents of Bridgewater and of the 
adjoining towns 7 of Abington and Weymouth, stirred by 
the restless urge to migrate, moved to northwestern Massa- 
chusetts, As early as 1795, Beza Whitman and his younger 
half-brother Freedom had settled at Cummington in the 
heart of the Berkshires. 

In the adjacent town of Windsor lived the family of 
Hezekiah and Alice Green. 8 Records show that Hezekiah 
saw military service in the battle of Saratoga in October, 
1781, as a soldier from Windsor. Like the Whitmans, the 
Green family had long been in America. Hezekiah Green 
was of the sixth generation of the descendants of Thomas 
Green, who settled at Wenham, Massachusetts, about 1636. 

Beza Whitman had not been long at Cummington 
before he won the heart and hand of Alice Green (1777- 
1857) , of Windsor, the youngest child of Hezekiah and Alice. 
They were married on March 9, 1797. Their family Bible 
with the family record is still extant, and in it we read the 
following account of the birth of their first-born : 9 

Augustus Whitman was born in the town of Windsor AD 1798. 
January the 7th 

About 1796, Henry Green (1763-1849) , 10 an older brother 
of Alice, had moved from Windsor to Ontario County, New 
York, and had become one of the early settlers of Naples. 
He moved in 1799 to a settlement known as Federal Hollow, 
located partly in the present township of Gorham, Ontario 



7 The word "town" is still used as a synonym for township in certain 
parts of the East. 

8 Greene, Genealogical Sketch of the Descendants of Thomas Green, 
p. 43, states that the family originally liyed at Killingly, Conn., where 
eight children were born. Farnham, op. cit., p. 236, states that Alice, the 
youngest child, was born at Mumford, Conn. There is no such place 
now. The Whitman family Bible says that she was born at Thompson, 
Windham County, Conn. 

9 Now owned by Mrs. Minnie A. Dayton, of Rushville. The Bible 
was printed in 1808. Regarding the place where Alice was born, we 
read : "His wife Alice Whitman was born in the year of our Lord 1777, 
Dec. 5th in the town of Thompson County of Windham, Connecticut." 

10 A family tradition states that Henry Green served in the Revolu- 
tionary War and was one of the group to guard Major Andre the last 
night of his life. 



THE FIRST EIGHTEEN YEARS 23 

County, and partly in Potter of Yates County. In 1818 the 
name Rushville was bestowed upon the settlement by the 
village doctor, Ira Bryant, who sought thereby to honor his 
friend, the famous Revolutionary War patriot, Dr. Benja- 
min Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence. 11 In order to avoid confusion, the name Rushville 
will be used even though it was not the official designation of 
the village until nearly twenty years after Henry Green 
moved there. 

In Rushville, Henry, later known as Captain Green, 
operated a sawmill and gristmill on a stream known as West 
River, which empties into the southern end of Lake Can- 
andaigua. As a child, Beza Whitman accompanied his 
family in its migration to the Berkshires of western Massa- 
chusetts. Shortly after his marriage to Alice Green, he 
moved westward again, this time going about two hundred 
and fifty miles to Ontario County, in which Henry Green 
was already established. 

According to one report, Beza and Alice settled first in 
Hopewell, 12 although the record of the birth of their second 
son indicates that in 1799 they lived for a time in Canandai- 
gua. According to another report, Beza and his family 
paused in the town of Middlesex. 13 The Whitman genealogy 
states that Beza arrived in Rushville with all of his earthly 
possessions loaded on a wagon pulled by a pair of oxen. His 
wife rode a horse and held Augustus in her arms. If this 
account be true, it was after the death of their second child 
on October 14, 1800. 

A tradition which still lingers in Rushville states that 
Henry Green had completed a frame dwelling about the 
time Beza arrived, and consequently Beza and his family 
were able to occupy the log cabin vacated by the Green 
family. Another Rushville tradition tells the story of how 
one day a bear raided the pigpen near the log barn which 
stood behind the Whitman home. This tradition throws 
some light upon the primitive life which surrounded the 
struggling settlements. 

Beza was an industrious and capable worker. He built a 
tannery on West River. He also plied his trade as a shoe- 



11 Centennial Celebration of Rushville Church, p. 13. 

12 Letter of Mary Alice Wisewell, granddaughter of Beza, to Myron 
Eells, March 10, 1882, Coll. W. (See Appendix 1 for list of abbrevia- 
tions used to designate collections of source material.) 

13 Yates County Chronicle, June 8, 1871. 



24 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

maker. An interesting- item in the possession of Whitman 
College, Walla Walla, Washington, is the following receipt 
made out in Beza Whitman's handwriting : 

March 14, 1807. This Day we the subscribers have made a full 
settlement by exchanging fifty Dollars and parted in friendship 
witness our hands 

(Signed) WILLIAM FANNING 
BEZA WHITMAN 

Julia Fanning, a daughter of William Fanning, wrote on 
July 24, 1897 : "He probably paid fifty dollars for his in- 
struction in the trade of tanner & currier. . . . After Beza 
Whitman's death . . . my father & a son Augustus Whitman 
worked the tan yard in company for three years." 14 

BIRTH AND EARLY LIFE OF MARCUS WHITMAN 

In that humble log cabin, the third son was born to Beza 
and Alice Whitman on Saturday, September 4, 1802. 15 They 
called him Marcus. The Whitman genealogy indicates that 
James Whitman, a first cousin of Beza, had a son born Au- 
gust 15, 1796, whom he named Marcus. About 1797 James 
Whitman and his family moved to Belchertown, Massachu- 
setts, which is in the same county and thirty miles east of 
Cummington. It is probable that Beza was a frequent visitor 
in the home of his cousin James and was an admirer of the 
first Marcus Whitman, a babe but a few months old when 
Beza and Alice were married. Perhaps from this source 
came the name of Marcus for the third son of Beza. 

We know virtually nothing about the very early life of 
our Marcus Whitman. One of the most authentic incidents 
is recorded by Mary Alice Wisewell, a niece of Marcus Whit- 
man. She wrote : 

His parents lived in a log house the country was new and wild, 
and as his father was a tanner and currier his mother being lonely 
often used to go and sit with her husband in the little shop opposite the 
house binding shoes. Having left him a baby in his cradle one evening 
she was much startled to find on her return that a log had fallen from 
the fireplace and burned the lower end of the cradle, and that he was 
nearly suffocated by the smoke. 16 

Perhaps her timely return saved the infant Marcus from a 
premature death. 



Coll. W. 

15 Drury, Spalding, p. 95, states that Marcus was the second son. 
The Whitman family Bible was subsequently discovered. 

16 Letter of Mary Alice Wisewell, Coll. W. 



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FAMILY RECORD. 



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A PAGE FROM THE BIBLE OF BEZA AND ALICE WHITMAN. 
The fifth entry on the left records the birth of Marcus. 

By courtesy of Mrs. Minnie A. Dayton. 





ALICE WHITMAN WISEWELL. 



AUGUSTUS WHITMAN. 




HENRY WHITMAN AND His SON 



SAMUEL WHITMAN. 



The likeness of Whitman's brother Henry was taken about 1847. 
The other photographs were much later. Samuel was blind in one eye. 

The picture of Whitman's sister, Alice, is by courtesy of Whitman College. The other 
pictures are by courtesy of J. C. Fox, Rushville, N. Y. 




MOSES HALLOCK'S HOME. 

From Magazine of American History, Vol. 17, p. 219. "The house is a 
low, old-fashioned, one-story building, but of ample width, securing a large 
amount of room upon the lower floor and a spacious chamber above." 
History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, p. 436. 




THE PLAINFIELD CHURCH. 

From Dyer, History of Plainfield. 





ALICE WHITMAN WISEWELL. 



AUGUSTUS WHITMAN 




HENRY WHITMAN AND His SON 



SAMUEL WHITMAN. 



The likeness of Whitman's brother Henry was taken about 1847. 
The other photographs were much later. Samuel was blind in one eye. 

The picture of Whitman's sister, Alice, is by courtesy of Whitman College. The other 
pictures are by courtesy of J. C. Fox, Rushville, N. Y. 




MOSES HALLOCK'S HOME. 

From Magazine of American History, Vol. 17, p. 219. "The house is a 
low, old-fashioned, one-story building, but of ample width, securing a large 
amount of room upon the lower floor and a spacious chamber above." 
History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, p. 43G. 




** 



THE PLAINFIELD CHURCH. 

From Dyer, History pf Plainficld. 




MARCUS WHITMAN'S MOTHER. 

Picture identified by the late Mrs. Marion B. Williams, of Middlesex, 
New York. Taken about 1847. 



THE FIRST EIGHTEEN YEARS 25 

Two other sons and a daughter came to that home 
namely, Samuel (1804-1875), Henry (1806-1854), and 
Alice (1808-1887). The home in which these children were 
reared must have been like the other pioneer homes of that 
period. Luxuries were unknown, and necessities were bare- 
ly obtainable. Domestic industries, in which the children 
were obliged to assist as early as possible, made the home 
self -sufficient in most things. 

Beza Whitman prospered in his trade sufficiently to war- 
rant the building of a new frame house, which was used as 
a public inn as well as a home. According to one report this 
was the first "public house" in Rushville, 17 and was built 
upon or near the site of the log cabin in which Marcus was 
born. Another evidence of his success is the record of the 
purchase of about forty acres of land in December, 1809, 
for $450. 18 This land was located about one-half mile south 
of the village. 

Marcus Whitman spent the first eight years of his life 
in Rushville. Among his playmates was a lad about his own 
age whose name was Jonathan Pratt, Jr. The two used to 
play under a big elm which stood at a crossroads about a 
mile northeast of Rushville in a place now called Baldwin 
Corners. Daniel Gates kept a tavern there. Below the cross- 
roads on West River was Captain Joseph Blodgett's sawmill. 
Three miles to the west was Canandaigua Lake, where 
possibly the boys sometimes went fishing. The kind of life 
Marcus lived during those first eight years in that frontier 
settlement was an important preparation for life in a fron- 
tier far more primitive than western New York. 

Mrs. Whitman, the mother of Marcus, is reported to have 
been a woman of great energy to whom laziness was a 
cardinal sin. The Rev. S. W. Pratt, D.D. (1839-1910), who 
served as Moderator of the Presbyterian Synod of New 
York in 1907, described her as follows : 

Marcus was said to have derived much of his vigor and energy and 
resoluteness from his mother, who was physically very strong and 



17 Yates County Chronicle, June 8, 1871. The house remained stand- 
ing for about one hundred years. Robert Moody, of Rushville, states 
that it was torn down before 1909. Some of the big wide boards from 
this house were used in the erection of a barn still standing at Rush- 
ville. A man who assisted in tearing down the house told the author at 
the centennial celebration held at Rushville, June 4, 1936 : "If I had 
known that so much fuss would be made about Marcus Whitman, I 
would never have done it." 

is See record of deeds, county courthouse, Canandaigua, N. Y. 




MARCUS WHITMAN'S MOTHER. 

Picture identified by the late Mrs. Marion B. Williams, of Middlesex, 
New York. Taken about 1847. 



THE FIRST EIGHTEEN YEARS 25 

Two other sons and a daughter came to that home 
namely, Samuel (1804-1875), Henry (1806-1854), and 
Alice (1808-1887). The home in which these children were 
reared must have been like the other pioneer homes of that 
period. Luxuries were unknown, and necessities were bare- 
ly obtainable. Domestic industries, in which the children 
were obliged to assist as early as possible, made the home 
self-sufficient in most things. 

Beza Whitman prospered in his trade sufficiently to war- 
rant the building of a new frame house, which was used as 
a public inn as well as a home. According to one report this 
was the first "public house" in Rushville, 17 and was built 
upon or near the site of the log cabin in which Marcus was 
born. Another evidence of his success is the record of the 
purchase of about forty acres of land in December, 1809, 
for $450. 18 This land was located about one-half mile south 
of the village. 

Marcus Whitman spent the first eight years of his life 
in Rushville. Among his playmates was a lad about his own 
age whose name was Jonathan Pratt, Jr. The two used to 
play under a big elm which stood at a crossroads about a 
mile northeast of Rushville in a place now called Baldwin 
Corners. Daniel Gates kept a tavern there. Below the cross- 
roads on West River was Captain Joseph Blodgett's sawmill. 
Three miles to the west was Canandaigua Lake, where 
possibly the boys sometimes went fishing. The kind of life 
Marcus lived during those first eight years in that frontier 
settlement was an important preparation for life in a fron- 
tier far more primitive than western New York. 

Mrs. Whitman, the mother of Marcus, is reported to have 
been a woman of great energy to whom laziness was a 
cardinal sin. The Rev. S. W. Pratt, D.D. (1839-1910), who 
served as Moderator of the Presbyterian Synod of New 
York in 1907, described her as follows : 

Marcus was said to have derived much of his vig'or and energy and 
resoluteness from his mother, who was physically very strong and 



17 Yutes County Chronicle, June 8, 1871. The house remained stand- 
ing for about one hundi-ed years. Robert Moody, of Rushville, states 
that it was torn down before 1909. Some of the big wide boards from 
this house were used in the ei'ection of a barn still standing at Rush- 
ville. A man who assisted in tearing clown the house told the author at 
the centennial celebration held at Rushville, June 4, 1936 : "If I had 
known that so much fuss would be made about Marcus Whitman, I 
would never have done it." 

18 Sec record of deeds, county courthouse, Canandaigua, N. Y. 



26 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

untiring, weaving for her household, making cheese and performing 
other industrial duties. She had no patience with laziness, and to a girl 
who would work for her she said, "You must have pluck as big as a 
brass kettle if you live with me." Her cap border would shake with 
energy when she spoke. She never spent any time in sentiment, but 
abounded in deeds. 19 

While the author was collecting material for this book, an 
old daguerreotype was discovered which is owned by J. C. 
Fox, of Rushville, who is a grandson of Henry Whitman, the 
brother of Marcus. At the time of discovery, no one could 
identify the picture. Circumstantial evidence suggested that 
it was a likeness of Mrs. Beza Whitman. The picture was 
shown to Mrs. Marion B. Williams, of Middlesex, New York, 
who celebrated her one hundred and first birthday on May 
24, 1936. She said : "I knew her. That is Mrs. Loomis. I 
used to go to church in Rushville with her." 20 Since Mrs. 
Beza Whitman married Calvin Loomis after the death of 
Beza, we have the satisfaction of knowing that we have a 
picture of Marcus Whitman's mother. The picture shows 
a face of much force and character. A lock of her blonde 
hair is in the archives of Whitman College. 

TEN YEARS IN MASSACHUSETTS 

Sorrow came to the Whitman home in Rushville on 
April 7, 1810, when Beza Whitman died in his thirty-seventh 
year. He was buried in the Baldwin Corners cemetery near 
the village, where one can still read on the brown sandstone 
marker the following epitaph, characteristic of that period : 

Stop here my friend and think on me 

I once was in the world like the 
This is a call aloud to the 

Prepare for death and follow me 

The widow was left with five children, the eldest, Au- 
gustus, but twelve years old. The financial burden was too 
great for her slender resources, so she turned to relatives for 
assistance. In the fall of that year Marcus, then eight years 
old, was sent to live with his father's half-brother, Freedom 
Whitman, at Cummington, Massachusetts. 21 Thus Marcus 



19 Sunset Magazine, Aug., 1909, p. 186. Article reprinted in 
Corning (N. Y.) Leader, Oct. 9, 1909. 

20 See Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, May 19, 1936, for story 
about Mrs. Williams. See p. 131. 

21 Letter of Mary A. Wisewell, Coll. W. 



j THE FIRST EIGHTEEN YEARS 27 

if 

3 suffered a double tragedy. He was not only bereft of his 

' ; father, but was also separated from his mother, his brothers, 

and his infant sister. However, in the light of later events 
to be set forth in their proper place, it is safe to say that 
'< Marcus Whitman would never have gone to Old Oregon as 

I a medical missionary, had it not been for the chain of events 

| that started with the death of his father, Beza Whitman. 

'! When Marcus wrote his letter of application to the 

'-} American Board on June 3, 1834, he stated : 

I was sent to reside with my Father's Brother in Massachusetts 

. where I received my early education and Religious instruction, my 

') Grand Father (for he resided in the same family) and Uncle were 

\ both pious and gave me constant religious instruction and care. I 

! was under their care mostly for ten years. 22 

' These two pious men, grandfather and uncle, left an indelible 

impression upon young Marcus. It was his good fortune to 
come under their influence during some of the most impor- 
tant years of character development. 

Grandfather Samuel Whitman and his wife moved from 
Bridgewater to Cummington about 1799. Mrs. Whitman 
died at Cummington on September 19, 1816, after which 
Samuel probably went to live with his son Freedom. When 
Marcus reached Cummington he found other relatives also 
present in the village. His father's sister Mehitabel, who 
married Abner Bates, Jr., lived there with her family. The 
uncles and aunts and cousins were strangers to the eight- 
year-old lad who was often homesick for the familiar sur- 
roundings of Rushville. 

' Marcus Whitman met in Cummington a youth a few 

years his senior who was named William Cullen Bryant. A 
year or so after Marcus went to Cummington, Bryant wrote 

\ his famous Thanatopsis in which the poet used for the first 

time in American literature the name "Oregon." 

Take the wings 

Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness, 
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods 
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound, 
Save his own dashings. . . . 23 



22 Whitman letter 3. See Appendix 1 for list of Whitman letters. 
Hereafter all references to Whitman letters will be made in the text 
only. To distinguish these numbers from footnote references, the num- 
ber of the Whitman letter referred to will be in brackets, i.e., [Letter 
3.]. 

23 For a discussion of the meaning of the name "Oregon" see Ban- 
croft, Oregon, Vol. 1, p. 19. 



28 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

The Columbia River was once known as the Oregon, al- 
though Captain Robert Gray, who discovered it in 1792, 
named the river after his ship, Columbia. However, Bryant 
was not then acquainted with that fact. 

After a residence of about five years amid the beautiful 
Berkshires of western Massachusetts, Marcus returned to 
Rushville to visit his mother and other relatives. He was 
then thirteen years old and had changed much during the 
years he had been away from Rushville. His niece, daughter 
of his sister Alice, describes the visit as follows : 

When thirteen years old he unexpectedly returned home for a visit 
of three weeks. Coming in at evening he went up to his mother and 
reached out his hand, saying "How do you do, Mother?" and she 
drew back thinking herself no mother to him. This so grieved him that 
he burst into tears. My mother says that it was during this visit that 
she first saw him to know him being six years younger. 24 

During the absence of Marcus, his mother, in 1811, had 
married Calvin Loomis (1766-1840). To this marriage, the 
second for both, three children were born Erastus 25 (1813) , 
Oren Green (1814 1881), and Luther (1816-1837). Calvin 
Loomis carried on the shoeshop and tannery business, and 
continued to conduct the tavern. It was to this house that the 
thirteen-year-old lad came on a visit to his mother, and to it 
he later returned to reside for several years. 

Whitman's experience as a boy was somewhat similar to 
that of Henry Harmon Spalding, with whom he was asso- 
ciated for eleven years in the Oregon mission. Spalding was 
bound out as a babe to strangers when he was but fourteen 
months old. Whitman was in his eighth year before he had 
to undergo the shock of being wrenched from familiar sur- 
roundings and taken from the side of a mother to whom he 
must have clung with childish dependence. Though he was 
placed with relatives, they were strangers to him. There is 
pathos in the story of the boy, who, separated from his 
mother for five years, came back only to be unrecognized. 



24 Wisewell letter, Coll. W. This letter gives us the most authentic 
glimpses into the early life of Whitman, for it was written during the 
lifetime of Whitman's only sister, Alice, and was in part dictated by 
her to her daughter. 

25 Erastus was also the name of her second born. In that day it was 
quite customary to use a name the second time if the first child with the 
name died. Whitman genealogy, p. 236, erroneously states that Mrs. 
Whitman married Chester Loomis. Calvin Loomis lies buried in the 
French Cemetery at Rushville beside his first wife. Mrs. Loomis was 
buried by her first husband. 



THE FIRST EIGHTEEN YEARS 29 

After his visit in Rushville, Marcus returned -to Massa- 
chusetts. It appears that about this time he enrolled as a 
student in the excellent classical school conducted in Plain- 
field by the Rev. Moses Hallock, pastor of the church there. 
Plainfield is only about seven miles from Cummington, near 
enough for Marcus to have made frequent trips, while 
attending school, to see his uncle and grandfather. At 
Plainfield, Marcus lived in the home of Colonel John Pack- 
ard, who was a man of considerable influence in the village 
and the church. 26 

The two villages, Cummington and Plainfield, are located 
in the northwest corner of Hampshire County, Massachu- 
setts, on the crest of the Berkshires. These beautiful tree- 
clad hills form a southern extension of the Green Mountains 
of Vermont, but fifteen miles to the north. Near Plainfield 
is West Mountain, more than two thousand feet above sea 
level, the highest point in western Hampshire. Near by is 
Mill Creek, on which were located a number of mills and 
other establishments needing water power. There are two 
natural ponds in the vicinity of the village, the largest of 
which, North Pond, is about a mile long and a half mile wide 
in the widest part. When Marcus was a boy the hills con- 
tained much wild game, and the ponds and the stream were 
well stocked with fish. Marcus with the other lads of his 
age roamed those hills in search of game, and he tried his 
luck with the pole. Gradually he acquired those character- 
istics of industry, courage, and self-reliance which were to 
be of such value to him in later years. 

The first settlers had come to Plainfield about 1770. 
Previous to the incorporation of Plainfield in 1785, the in- 
habitants attended the church at Cummington, which had 
been organized in 1771. The Plainfield church was or- 
ganized August 31, 1786, and a few years later a building 
was erected which measured 55 ^ x 42^ feet. In the records 
of the church is found the following interesting item for 
April 23, 1792 : 

Voted that the owners of pews in the meeting-house provide rum to 
raise said building. 27 



26 Dyer, History of the Town of Plainfield, p. 93. 

2T The comparative value of the church and the school in the eyes 
of the citizens of Plainfield is to be seen in the following item from the 
town records for March 13, 1786 : "Voted to raise twenty pounds to here 
preaching for the present year. Voted not to raise money for to 
support a school." 



30 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

The church was finally completed in 1797. It boasted of 
forty-four box pews below and nineteen in the gallery. The 
pew occupied by Colonel John Packard and his family, and 
therefore by Marcus Whitman, was in the southwest corner 
of the church. 28 The church had no stoves until 1822, when 
two were placed near the pulpit, and then, so we learn, "not 
. . . without considerable opposition." During- the winter 
weather the women carried with them the common charcoal 
foot stoves, which are still used in Holland, while the men 
frequently imbibed "a little good old rum internally to pre- 
vent the cold from piercing their vitals." 

During the "long prayer," it was the custom for the con- 
gregation to stand. The seats in the box pews were hinged 
and movable. When the congregation arose, these seats were 
folded back in order to give more room. When the "Amen" 
was pronounced, the seats all fell back into place with a bang 
and a clatter that would astonish a present-day congrega- 
tion. 

In 1792 the church extended a call to the Rev. Moses 
Hallock (1760-1837), who had served as a soldier in the 
Revolutionary War and had been graduated from Yale in 
1788. Hallock was a native of Goshen, Massachusetts, a 
town adjacent to the east of Cummington. He was already 
acquainted with the Whitman family for he had as his 
pastor in Goshen the Rev. Samuel Whitman, a third cousin 
of the Samuel Whitman of Cummington. Moses Hallock 
had studied for the ministry under his direction ; and when 
he was installed pastor of the Plainfield church on July 11, 
1792, the Rev. Samuel Whitman preached the installation 
sermon. This sermon was published, and copies can still be 
found in Eastern libraries. His text was from Ezekiel 44 :23. 

Hallock served as pastor of the Plainfield congregation 
for forty-five years. He was a remarkable man in many 
ways, and certainly left a lasting influence upon the life of 
Marcus Whitman. Shortly after his installation Hallock 
opened a school in his home, which he conducted with great 
effectiveness until 1824. More than three hundred students 
received the benefit of his training, of whom thirty were 
girls. The nonresident students paid a dollar a week for 
board and tuition. This school was established a year after 
the founding of Williams College, thirty miles distant. One 
hundred and thirty-two of Hallock's students went to col- 



28 Dyer, op. cit., p. 7, gives detailed information about the church, 
including a floor plan, etc. 



THE FIRST EIGHTEEN YEAES 31 

lege, most of them to Williams College, but some went to 
Amherst, also about thirty miles distant, and to Harvard. 

Among the students later to become well known were such 
men as William Cullen Bryant from near-by Cummington, 
and John Brown of Harpers Ferry fame. The former has 
left for us the following account of his experiences as a 
student under Moses Hallock : 

I was early at my task in the morning, and kept on until bed-time ; 
at night I dreamed of Greek, and my first thought in the morning was 
of my lesson for the day, at the end of two calendar months I knew the 
Greek New Testament from end to end almost as if it had been 
English. 2 ** 

Many of the same influences which flowed into the life of 
William Cullen Bryant likewise moulded his younger con- 
temporary, Marcus Whitman, who shared with him the life 
of the same communities. They lived in the same environ- 
ment; they knew many of the same people; they worshiped 
in the same church and studied under the same renowned 
schoolmaster. 

John Brown's contact with the Hallock school was of 
short duration. About 1818, Brown, who then lived at Hud- 
son, Ohio, 30 decided to enter the ministry. His attention was 
naturally directed to the Hallock school, because Hallock was 
a relative of his mother. John Brown was two years the 
senior of Marcus Whitman, and it is probable that the two 
were schoolmates for a short time in the Plainfield school. 

Marcus Whitman summed up the story of his early 
education in a letter written to the American Board on June 
3, 1834, when he stated : "My preliminary education consists 
of the english Branches together with some knowledge of 
Lattin and some little of Greek." In the Hallock school 
Whitman received the education then given to all students 
preparing for the Gospel ministry. Since he, also, planned to 
enter the ministry, it is well for us to review in some detail 
the religious influences which enveloped him during the 
impressionable years of adolescence. 

In both Cummington and Plainfield the church played a 
central role in the life of their respective communities. There 
was a time in Cummington when membership in the church 



29 Bradley, Wm. Cullen Bryant, pp. 22-23. 

30 John Brown's father, Owen Brown, is buried in the Hudson ceme- 
tery. H. H. Spalding attended Western Eeserve College at Hudson 
during the years 1831-1833, and undoubtedly knew both Owen and 
John Brown, since both were active in the religious life of the village. 



32 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

was a necessary condition for full privileges as a citizen of 
the community. While Marcus lived at Plainfield all of the 
prominent people of the town were likewise prominent in 
the church. 

The Sabbath began at sundown on Saturday and con- 
tinued until sundown on Sunday. The day was strictly ob- 
served according to the custom of the time. In 1800 the 
Plainfield church acquired a bell which weighed 650 pounds, 
whose tone was the key of D. The ringing of this bell called 
the people of the village to public worship, and woe unto any 
who absented himself without good cause ! Going out in a 
boat or standing idly on the river bank on Sunday was 
strictly forbidden! 

Among the devout members of the church was a miller 
by the name of Joseph Beals, who died July 20, 1813. Though 
Marcus Whitman may never have known him, yet the repu- 
tation of his piety was certainly a fact of which Marcus was 
aware. His fame was greatly increased through a tract 
written by the Rev. William Hallock, a son of Moses Hallock, 
which was published by the American Tract Society in 1831 
under the title, The Mountain Miller's Horned During the 
first year of its publication, some 140,000 copies were dis- 
tributed. In 1833, another edition of 168,000 was issued. 
People throughout the United States and across the seas 
read the story of the piety of the Mountain Miller of 
Plainfield. 

The strong religious influence which Moses Hallock ex- 
erted over the young men who studied in his school is espe- 
cially evident from the number of his students who entered 
the ministry or the mission field. Fifty out of 304 students, 
including two of his own sons, entered the ministry, and 
seven became foreign missionaries. 32 Is it any wonder that 
Whitman dreamed of entering the ministry when he too was 
under such an influence ? 

The Plainfield church started a Sunday school in May, 
1819. Since the Sunday school movement did not become 
a national force until 1825, it is to the credit of the Plain- 
field congregation that this form of religious activity was 
adopted so early. Marcus was in his seventeenth year when 



31 Tract No. 254. Copies of this tract are to be found in several 
Eastern libraries. One is in the Widener Library of Harvard 
University. 

32 The list given in Dyer does not include Whitman's name as a 
foreign missionary. 



I THE FIRST EIGHTEEN YEARS 33 



the school was organized. He entered a class taught by 
Deacon James Richards. In regard to the Sunday school, 
Whitman wrote : "I have attended as a schollar, teacher or 
Superintendent ever since." [Letter 3.] 

All three of Deacon Richards' sons entered the ministry, 
which again reflects credit upon the strength of the Deacon's 
faith. One of these sons, James Richards, Jr., also a student 
of Moses Hallock, was graduated from Williams College in 
1809. In 1806, while at the college, James Richards, Jr. and 
four others, Samuel J. Mills, Francis L. Robbins, Harvey 
Loomis, and Byram Green, assembled one day in a near-by 
grove to pray. A rainstorm caused them to seek shelter in a 
haystack. It was there that this small group under the lead- 
ership of Mills solemnly dedicated themselves to the cause 
of foreign missions. A monument has been erected on the 
site, on the present campus of Williams College. The names 
of the five young men are inscribed on the monument with 
the words : "The Field is the World Birthplace of American 
Foreign Missions 1806." 

We can believe that the enthusiasm for foreign missions 
was carried back to his native village of Plainfield by James 
Richards, Jr., later sent by the American Board to Ceylon. 
If Marcus did not meet him, surely the story of his work in 
Ceylon would have been told to Whitman by James Richards, 
Sr., his Sunday school teacher. 

In 1819, a religious awakening touched many of the 
communities of New England, and also many communities 
outside of New England which had been settled by New Eng- 
land people. Revivals were the order of the day. This awak- 
ening was felt in Plainfield, and among those affected was 
Marcus Whitman. Of that experience he wrote : "I attended 
the ministrations of Rev. Moses Hallock at which time I was 
awakened to a sense of my sin and danger and brought by 
Divine grace to rely on the Lord Jesus for pardon and salva- 
tion." [Letter 3.] Marcus was then in his seventeenth year. 

There is no record of Whitman's joining the Plainfield 
church. It may be that he expected soon to return to Rush- 
ville and felt it wise to delay joining a church until he had 
reached his native town. More probably Whitman found 
himself caught between conflicting loyalties. On the one 
hand was the Congregational influence of Plainfield ; on the 
other were the Baptist convictions of his grandfather and 
uncle in Cummington. 

Marcus Whitman's failure to join the Congregational 



34 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

church of Plainfield may have been due to his consideration 
of the Baptist ideas held by his grandfather and uncle. 
Records of the period frequently show that members of a 
Congregational church were dismissed for holding the 
"Baptist error." Marcus waited until he returned to Rush- 
ville before he joined the church. 

Just what event or combination of circumstances caused 
Marcus to return to Rushville in 1820, after ten years' resi- 
dence in Massachusetts, is not known. [Letter 4.] At this 
time he should have completed as much of the schooling as 
was offered by Moses Hallock. He was then ready for college. 
With his heart set upon the Christian ministry, it may well 
be that Marcus returned to see if the necessary financial 
assistance could be secured to permit him to continue his 
studies. A more probable explanation is that his stepfather 
and mother felt that since he was eighteen he was old enough 
to bear an active part in the work of the shoeshop and tan- 
nery. Augustus was then married and had his own home. 
Marcus, as the second eldest son in the family, was needed. 
Greatly disappointed but obedient, Whitman turned from 
his schoolbooks to assist his stepfather. 

When Marcus returned to Rushville, he found that a 
new brick meetinghouse had been erected in 1818. This 
building is still in use, although it has been remodeled and 
repaired several times during the past years. The pastor of 
the church was the Rev. Joseph Merrill. Unfortunately the 
minutes of the church for its early years have been lost, but 
in a recently discovered record book of Samuel Whitman, 
the brother of Marcus, we find the following item: "Nov. 
1870. Fifty years this month since I profest to love God and 
to love his people. Brother Marcus Whitman profest to love 
God the same time. S. Whitman." 33 This means that Marcus 
Whitman joined the Rushville church in November, 1820, 
and harmonizes with his statement : "I did not united with 
the Church until I returned to Rushville (my native 
place.)" [Letters.] 

A new chapter in Whitman's life opened when he re- 
turned to Rushville to assume a man's labor in the work of 
the world. 



33 Original owned by Mrs. Maude Walker, of Wayland, N. Y. 



CHAPTER TWO 

WHITMAN'S MEDICAL TRAINING 
1820-1832 

MARCUS WHITMAN returned to Rushville with the hope 
of studying for the ministry. However, in this ambition 
he was disappointed. In the letter of Mary Alice Wisewell, 
to which reference has already been made, we find the 
statement : 

His heart was set on studying for the ministry, but he was opposed 
by his brothers who thought his limited means would compel him to 
be a charity scholar, and persuaded him against his will to take up the 
study of medicine. My mother says many a time she has seen the big 
tears on his face as he thought of his disappointment in his course of 
life. 1 

To this statement Joel Wakeman (1809-1898), whose 
personal reminiscences of Marcus Whitman appeared in a 
Prattsburg, New York, newspaper in 1893 and again in 
1898, took exception. Wakeman wrote : 

If Marcus Whitman felt it was his duty to enter the ministry ten 
thousand brothers could not have changed his mind. A clear conviction 
of duty was with him the voice of God, and no power on earth could 
restrain him from prompt obedience. 2 

Whatever the truth may be, the financial difficulty sug- 
gested by Mary Alice Wisewell was a real obstacle. In Whit- 
man's day the minister was the best educated man in the 
community. The Congregational and the Presbyterian de- 
nominations, with which Whitman had contacts, frowned 
upon an uneducated ministry. It was expected that a minister 
should have a full college course and three years of seminary 
work. There were exceptions to this general rule, but on 
the whole these two denominations insisted upon a thorough 
scholastic training. Seven years of college and seminary 
work were costly. It seems probable that the family could 
offer little or no financial assistance to Marcus in the ful- 
fillment of his cherished plans. 

1 In the Naples Record, Sept. 24, 1913, there is an article by Frank 
Wisewell which contains a similar statement. 

2 Prattsburg News, Feb. 3, 1898. Wakeman's original MSS. are in 
Coll. Wn. 



36 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

From available evidence it is also possible that Whit- 
man's mother was unsympathetic to the idea of her son's 
becoming- a minister. In Whitman's first letter to the Ameri- 
can Board he wrote : "My Mother is living and professes a 
hope but is not attracted to any church." The Congrega- 
tional church of Rushville was organized in 1802 with fifteen 
charter members, 3 and although Beza and Alice Whitman 
were then living in Rushville, they were not numbered 
among the fifteen. There is no record that either of them 
ever joined. However, Captain Henry Green, Mrs. Whitman's 
brother, was one of the organizers and later became a dea- 
con. Oren Green, the son of Noah, another of her brothers, 
was also an active worker in the church. 

An extract from a letter which Marcus wrote to his 
mother on May 27, 1843, closed with the following- appeal : 

Let me say in conclusion that I feel most desirious to know that my 
Dear Mother has determined to live the rest of her days witnessing 
a good profession of godliness. What keeps you from this. Is it that 
you are not a sinner, or if not that is it that there is no Saviour of 
sinners, or is it that you have not too long refused & neglected to love 
& obey him. Has not his forbearance & his mercy been very long 
expended towards you. [Letter 134.] 

If the mother did not desire her eighteen-year-old son to 
enter the ministry, it would have been easy to find a satis- 
factory excuse for opposing his plans in the financial burden 
involved. In spite of his deep disappointment, Marcus was 
obedient. We surmise that for the next three years he lived 
in his mother's home and rendered such assistance as was 
possible to his stepfather in his business. 

From the evidence at our disposal we have every 
reason to believe that Marcus took an active part in the work 
of the Rushville church. He was received into its member- 
ship on confession of faith by the Rev. Joseph Merrill (1777- 
1846) , who had been installed as the first settled pastor of 
the church on July 5, 1809. 4 Mr. Merrill was, therefore, 
Whitman's first pastor. Perhaps he had officiated at the 
funeral service of Beza Whitman. Because of the inability 
of the people of Rushville to pay a sufficient salary, Mr. 
Merrill also served a Presbyterian congregation at Hope- 
well in an adjacent township, and in 1821 severed his rela- 



3 Centennial Celebration, p. 5. 

4 A. B., Dartmouth, 1906. No record is given of his theological 
seminary, if any. Chapman, Sketches of the Alumni of Dartmouth 
College. 



36 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

From available evidence it is also possible that Whit- 
man's mother was unsympathetic to the idea of her son's 
becoming a minister. In Whitman's first letter to the Ameri- 
can Board he wrote : "My Mother is living and professes a 
hope but is not attracted to any church." The Congrega- 
tional church of Rushville was organized in 1802 with fifteen 
charter members, 3 and although Beza and Alice Whitman 
were then living in Rushville, they were not numbered 
among the fifteen. There is no record that either of them 
ever joined. However, Captain Henry Green, Mrs. Whitman's 
brother, was one of the organizers and later became a dea- 
con. Oren Green, the son of Noah, another of her brothers, 
was also an active worker in the church. 

An extract from a letter which Marcus wrote to his 
mother on May 27, 1843, closed with the following appeal : 

Let me say in conclusion that I feel most desirious to know that my 
Dear Mother has determined to live the rest of her days witnessing 
a good profession of godliness. What keeps you from this. Is it that 
you are not a sinner, or if not that is it that there is no Saviour of 
sinners, or is it that you have not too long refused & neglected to love 
& obey him. Has not his forbearance & his mercy been very long 
expended towards you. [Letter 134.] 

If the mother did not desire her eighteen-year-old son to 
enter the ministry, it would have been easy to find a satis- 
factory excuse for opposing his plans in the financial burden 
involved. In spite of his deep disappointment, Marcus was 
obedient. We surmise that for the next three years he lived 
in his mother's home and rendered such assistance as was 
possible to his stepfather in his business. 

From the evidence at our disposal we have every 
reason to believe that Marcus took an active part in the work 
of the Rushville church. He was received into its member- 
ship on confession of faith by the Rev. Joseph Merrill (1777- 
1846), who had been installed as the first settled pastor of 
the church on July 5, 1809. 4 Mr. Merrill was, therefore, 
Whitman's first pastor. Perhaps he had officiated at the 
funeral service of Beza Whitman. Because of the inability 
of the people of Rushville to pay a sufficient salary, Mr. 
Merrill also served a Presbyterian congregation at Hope- 
well in an adjacent township, and in 1821 severed his rela- 



3 Centennial Celebration, p. 5. 

4 A. B., Dartmouth, 1906. No record is given of his theological 
seminary, if any. Chapman, Sketches of the Alumni of Dartmouth 
College. 




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WHITMAN'S MEDICAL TRAINING 37 

tionship with the Rushville church in order to give full time 
to the Hopewell group. 

On May 2, 1821, the day after Mr. Merrill left, the Rev. 
David Page (1790-1855) was installed. 5 Mr. Page was a 
Presbyterian. In 1814 the Rushville church united with the 
Presbytery of Geneva under the "Plan of Union," which had 
been devised in 1801 by the Congregational Association of 
Connecticut and the Presbyterian General Assembly. This 
agreement made it possible for members of both denomina- 
tions in small communities to work together in one organiza- 
tion. The Rushville church withdrew from the presbytery 
in 1855 and thus again became fully Congregational. 

Both Merrill and Page were graduates of Dartmouth 
College. They were educated and capable pastors, who, no 
doubt, supplemented the fine Christian training Marcus had 
received in Massachusetts. According to one report, Marcus 
studied Latin under Mr. Page. 6 

The only contemporaneous record which throws definite 
light upon Whitman's activities from 1820-1823, inclusive, 
is the original record book of the Sunday school of the Rush- 
ville church, 7 in which the name of Marcus Whitman occurs 
twice. He is listed as a teacher in June, 1822, and again in 
1823, when his name appears first on a list of seventeen 
teachers. His brother Augustus was then serving as the 
secretary. Marcus taught a class of boys whose ages ranged 
from eight to sixteen. Nearly twenty-five years later one of 
the boys from his Sunday school class, Newton Gilbert, 
visited the Whitman home in Oregon. [Letter 178.] The 
history of the Rushville church written for its centennial in 
1902 states that upon his return to Rushville, Marcus "im- 
mediately interested himself in the welfare of the church 
by conducting sunrise prayer meetings in company with 
two other young men." 8 

The church was not without its missionary enthusiasm, 
although at that time the foreign missionary movement had 
touched but few of the American churches. On October 23, 
1819, the American Board sent seven missionaries and their 
wives on the brig-Thaddeus to begin missionary work in the 
Hawaiian Islands, then known as the Sandwich Islands. The 



B A. B., Dartmouth, 1817. Attended Andover Theo. Sem. for one year, 
1818-1819. Chapman, op. cit., p. 188. 

6 Sunset, Aug., 1909, p. 186. 

7 In care of Mrs. Ellen Bates 3 of Rushville. 

8 Centennial Celebration, p. 28. 



38 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

group reached Honolulu on April 19, 1820. Among these 
pioneers of the cross was Elisha Loomis (1799-1836), then 
only twenty years old, of Rushville. He was a distant rela- 
tive of Calvin Loomis, the stepfather of Marcus Whitman. 
Loomis was a printer and took with him a printing press 
valued at $450. The historical sketch of the Rushville 
church contains the following interesting item about the 
press : 

It is interesting to add, in view of the fact that Mr. Loomis and 
Dr. Whitman were both members of this church, that in 1839, the 
mission at Honolulu having been presented with a finer outfit, pre- 
sented the printing press, ink and paper to the Whitman mission at 
Waiilatpu. 9 

Loomis was influential in helping reduce the native 
language to writing, and in the translation and printing of 
the Gospel of Matthew into Hawaiian. After rendering 
faithful service until 1827, he was obliged to return to his 
home with his wife, because of his ill-health. 

Loomis had gone before Whitman returned to Rushville 
in 1820, yet it is possible that they knew each other as boys. 
Certainly they were friendly after Loomis returned from 
the Islands, for when Marcus sent in a list of references to 
the American Board in the summer of 1834, he mentioned 
"Elisha Loomis, former Missionary Printer to the Sandwich 
Islands." [Letter 4.] In tracing out the roots of Marcus 
Whitman's missionary interest, we should remember Elisha 
Loomis. Without question Marcus spent hours listening to 
the wonderful tales that his friend Elisha could tell, and at 
times there came over him the old longing to be a minister 
and go as a missionary to the benighted heathen in distant 
lands. 

"RIDING" WITH DR. BRYANT 

Marcus Whitman celebrated his twenty-first birthday 
on September 4, 1823. Legally he was free to follow his own 
inclinations, and it appears that he then began "to ride" with 
Dr. Bryant. In those days, when a young man aspired to be 
a doctor, he usually began his studies under some local 
physician, who would take the student with him when he 
visited his patients. In the colloquialism of the time this 
was referred to as "riding with the Doctor." From the 



9 Centennial Celebration, p. 28. Elisha Loomis is buried in the 
French Cemetery near Rushville. The cemetery gets its name from a 
family of that name who once lived in the vicinity. 



WHITMAN'S MEDICAL TRAINING 39 

meager evidence available, it appears that Marcus Whitman 
began riding with Dr. Ira Bryant, of Rushville, soon after 
Whitman reached his majority. 

Frustrated in his plan to enter the Gospel ministry, 
Marcus turned to the medical profession as a promising 
field for altruistic service. One hundred and more years 
ago the medical profession did not demand the extensive 
educational background that it exacts now. A medical course 
was comparatively inexpensive. All that was needed in 
preparation was a good English education. Whitman had 
more than was required, in that he had studied both Greek 
and Latin. He was better prepared to pursue his medical 
studies than were the majority of the students of his day. 
Although the financial burden of a theological course might 
have been too heavy for him at the time, such was not the 
case with a medical course. 

Dr. Ira Bryant (1786-1840), supposed to have been a 
distant cousin of William Cullen Bryant, settled in Rush- 
ville sometime prior to 1818. 10 He became a member of the 
county medical society and remained at Rushville, practicing 
medicine until he died in 1840. Whitman began his medical 
studies in Rushville under Dr. Bryant, as is indicated in his 
first letter to the American Board, wherein he wrote : "In 
my profession I studied and practiced regularly with a good 
physician." 

Whitman does not state just how long he "rode" with Dr. 
Bryant. In view of the fact that he entered a medical school 
in the fall of 1825 and received a license to practice medicine 
the next spring, the assumption is that he must have had at 
least two years' experience with the local physician. This 
period would have included the years from the time he was 
twenty-one until he was twenty-three. 11 

One of Whitman's childhood playmates, and later a 
schoolmate, was Jonathan Pratt, Jr. (1801-1880). In the 
summer of 1936 some new material bearing directly and 
indirectly upon the life of Marcus Whitman was discovered 



10 Centennial Celebration, p. 41. The first doctor in Rushville, and 
for many years the only doctor, was Dr. Buffum Harkness (1773-1817) . 
The fact that he died in 1817 may suggest the time when Dr. Bryant 
settled in the village. 

11 Wisewell letter, Coll. W. : "He took up a three years course of 
study with Dr. Ira Bryant of Rushville and received his diploma at 
Fairfield in 1824." Miss Wisewell was in error as to the date when her 
uncle received his license, and this error was repeated in Eells, Marcus 
Whitman, p. 23. 



40 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

in the home of Carlton Pratt, the son of Jonathan. This 
material included two letters written by Marcus to Jona- 
than in 1827 and 1828, which are the oldest Whitman letters 
known to be extant. It also included Jonathan's diary, which 
began with an entry for January 1, 1824, and closed with one 
for May 2, 1838. The diary is not complete, for frequently 
weeks and even months passed without an entry. However, 
the eight double foolscap sheets of closely written material 
throw much new light upon some obscure years in the life 
of Marcus Whitman. The fact that Jonathan Pratt and 
Marcus Whitman were both students of Dr. Ira Bryant 
during a part of the period covered by the diary gives us 
added interest in what happened to Jonathan. 

In his old age Carlton Pratt was sick and infirm. Shortly 
before the new Whitman material was discovered, he sold 
an antique desk to a collector. The contents of the drawers 
were dumped on the floor when the desk was removed, and 
amid the resulting debris the Whitman letters were later 
found. On November 19, 1936, the old house burned with all 
of its contents. Carlton Pratt lost his life in the fire. 12 The 
Whitman source material was discovered none too soon. 

From the documents secured from the Pratt home we 
learn that on November 10, 1823, Chester Loomis and Au- 
gustus Whitman gave Jonathan Pratt a letter of recom- 
mendation to teach a common school. They testified to his 
good moral character and to the fact that he possessed suf- 
ficient literary requirements for the position. It appears 
that Jonathan alternated between teaching school and "rid- 
ing with Dr. Bryant." In all probability Marcus Whitman 
did the same. A resident of Portland, Oregon, recently 
wrote : "When I was a young girl my grandmother, Lavina 
Lindsley born in Middlesex, New York, 1810, told me several 
times that she had been to school to Marcus Whitman." 13 In 
1845 Whitman referred to the visit of Newton Gilbert and 
said that he was "formerly my day & Sabbath School 
Schollar." [Letter 178.] So for a time Marcus Whitman 
must have taught school. 

There is also the tradition that Marcus assisted his 
brother Henry in the operation of a sawmill near Potter 



12 Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Nov. 20, 1936. Source material 
which the author secured from this home is now in Coll. Wn. 

13 Mrs. Isaac Lee Patterson to the author, July 17, 1936. This La- 
vina Lindsley is not to be confused with the Levina Linsley to whom 
H. H. Spalding was once engaged. 



WHITMAN'S MEDICAL TRAINING 41 

Center. 14 Such experiences as teaching school, assisting in 
the shoeshop and tannery, and working in a sawmill gave 
Whitman some skills which proved to be of the utmost value 
to him in later years when circumstances made it necessary 
for him to provide for himself or do without. 

Jonathan Pratt's diary opens with a statement that he 
had been to Canandaigua, the county seat of Ontario County, 
where he heard an oration by Mr. J. C. Spencer, who was a 
lawyer of that city. Mr. Spencer later became Secretary of 
War and then Secretary of Treasury in President Tyler's 
cabinet and was of great assistance to Marcus Whitman in 
1843 when he was in Washington. In all probability Whit- 
man also knew Spencer at the time mentioned by his friend 
Jonathan. 

After completing a term of school teaching on February 
23, 1824, Jonathan began his medical studies under Dr. 
Bryant. On March 5 he went to Bethel, now called Gorham, 
where he got a "cranium or scull." On March 15 he wrote : 
"Friday amnesty declared between J. P. & M. W." Nowhere 
in the diary is the name Marcus Whitman mentioned, but 
twice he gives the initial letters "M. W." which seem to refer 
to Marcus. Perhaps in this entry of March 15 we can assume 
that the amnesty was declared between Jonathan Pratt and 
Marcus Whitman. 

On April 4, Pratt described what was expected of the 
medical student : 

Saturday finished Anatomy & was pleased to get through for I 
found a great part of it verry dry study, but think of the different 
parts of which it is composed, viz. Muscles, bloodvessels, Lymphatics 
and Nerves, that the Muscles is the most perplexing. When shall I get 
through with my studies; two long years (if I live) before I can attend 
a course of medical lectures one course of which being three months 
will complete my studies. 

Here Jonathan states quite clearly that a medical student 
was expected to study two years under a local physician and 
then have three months in a medical school before receiving 
his license. This was the procedure followed by Marcus 
Whitman. 

On July 1 Pratt wrote : " . . . heard a controversy between 
Dr. C. and M. W. respecting some observations made by the 
latter." From other references we learn that Dr. C. is Dr. 
Chatterton, and we can believe that M. W. is Marcus Whit- 



14 Eells, Marcus Whitman, p. 23. 



42 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

man. No further information has been discovered about Dr. 
Chatterton, and we are left in doubt regarding the nature of 
the controversy. A few days later Jonathan himself had a 
controversy with the same doctor and wrote : " . . . think he 
is not a verry likely fellow considering the stories." 
, After spending the summer and fall of 1824 "riding 
with Dr. Bryant," Jonathan returned to school teaching at 
Middlesex in December, 1824. In May of the next year he 
resumed his medical studies. On the 29th of that month he 
rode to Penn Yan "to hear a student examined for the pur- 
pose of getting a diploma and entering into the practice of 
physic." By an act of the New York Legislature in 1806, 
county medical societies were given the authority to examine 
all who desired to practice "physic and surgery" and if 
judged competent to license the same. Jonathan Pratt re- 
ferred to the license as a "diploma." 

No mention is made of Whitman, nor even of his initials, 
in Pratt's diary for 1825. Since Jonathan did not begin his 
studies with Dr. Bryant until May 22, and since Whitman 
enrolled in the medical college at Fairfield, Herkimer Coun- 
ty, on October 3 of that year, it is possible that Whitman had 
received from Dr. Bryant all the training the local physician 
could give. In November, 1825, Jonathan returned to school 
teaching, and in April of the following year he "concluded to 
recommence the study of physic." On September 2, 1826, Dr. 
Ira Bryant addressed the following communication to Doc- 
tor Cleveland, of Benton : 

Dear Sir Doct Pratt the bearer of this has been a student of mine his 
term of study being Towards a completion he wishes to come under the 
wing of some practioner that- he may gain a livelyhood. Doct Pratt is 
a man well informed in Physic and I can recommend him to you a(s) a 
man of good morals and strict veracity. If you could help him to a 
place you would confer a great favor on him and oblige your friend 
and humble servant. 

From this it appears that Jonathan had secured sufficient 
training under Dr. Bryant to enable him to secure a license 
from the county medical society. The title "Doct." was used 
even by those who did not have an M.D. degree. The title 
then signified an occupation and not an education. 

WHITMAN AT FAIRFIELD 

Not one of the several biographers of Marcus Whitman 
has given correctly the facts regarding his medical training. 
It is commonly reported that he was graduated with an M.D. 



Samuel Cooper's First Lines of the Practice uf 
Surgery, 4th ej. j Horsey'i ElemenU uf Burg 
Beyer's Surgery. 



N* OBSTETRICS. 



Burn*' Principles of .'Midwifery, by Dr. Jatne*r 
Denmati's Midwifery, by Dr. fYanci*; Dt'wm' 
Abridgement of liaudelotque's Midwifery, or He 
weea* Midwifery. 



OX CHEMISTRY, 



Brande's Manual of Chemistry, or (iorham's Hie 
meats of Chemical Hcieuce ; Thpmjoii*! System : 
Chemistry, by Dr. Cooper ; Furkes* C'hemual C,i 
exrhism, and flaw's edition of Heriry^ Ch 



O.V MATEHIA MKOICA. 



Beck's Murray's Ma teria Mediia, and thr 
macoptt-ia of the t'niu.' Si 



o.s ruAt i irt;. 

Oullen's Practice r>f Phy-ir. with Nott^ by Dt- 
Caldwell ; ArmstroiJg'ft Workn; Kediugtieid'*: l'''- 
peodium, 

OX ANATOMY AM) l'II\ S|oI.<M.\ . 

BelPs, Fyfe* or Wi^turs Anatomy : Bailiie '* 
Morbid Anatomy ; Lotuloii Dhsector : Mn^MHlic'* 
Elements of Physiology. 

r.XI'KNSKS. 

Tickets fr attending the Lertures UIT u-> lollou* 
For Anatomy and Physioloty , ^l- 

Chemistry nud Materia '.ilcdita. ' 

PAGE FROM THE CATALOG OF THE FAIRFIELD MEDICAL COLLEGE. 

Medical textbooks recommended by the Fairfield Medical College 
catalog of 1825-26. 



40 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

in the home of Carlton Pratt, the son of Jonathan. This 
material included two letters written by Marcus to Jona- 
than in 1827 and 1828, which are the oldest Whitman letters 
known to be extant. It also included Jonathan's diary, which 
began with an entry for January 1, 1824, and closed with one 
for May 2, 1838. The diary is not complete, for frequently 
weeks and even months passed without an entry. However, 
the eight double foolscap sheets of closely written material 
throw much new light upon some obscure years in the life 
of Marcus Whitman. The fact that Jonathan Pratt and 
Marcus Whitman were both students of Dr. Ira Bryant 
during a part of the period covered by the diary gives us 
added interest in what happened to Jonathan. 

In his old age Carlton Pratt was sick and infirm. Shortly 
before the new Whitman material was discovered, he sold 
an antique desk to a collector. The contents of the drawers 
were dumped on the floor when the desk was removed, and 
amid the resulting debris the Whitman letters were, later 
found. On November 19, 1936, the old house burned with all 
of its contents. Carlton Pratt lost his life in the fire. 12 The 
Whitman source material was discovered none too soon. 

From the documents secured from the Pratt home we 
learn that on November 10, 1823, Chester Loomis and Au- 
gustus Whitman gave Jonathan Pratt a letter of recom- 
mendation to teach a common school. They testified to his 
good moral character and to the fact that he possessed suf- 
ficient literary requirements for the position. It appears 
that Jonathan alternated between teaching school and "rid- 
ing with Dr. Bryant." In all probability Marcus Whitman 
did the same. A resident of Portland, Oregon, recently 
wrote : "When I was a young girl my grandmother, Lavina 
Lindsley born in Middlesex, New York, 1810, told me several 
times that she had been to school to Marcus Whitman." 13 In 
1845 Whitman referred to the visit of Newton Gilbert and 
said that he was "formerly my day & Sabbath School 
Schollar." [Letter 178.] So for a time Marcus Whitman 
must have taught school. 

There is also the tradition that Marcus assisted his 
brother Henry in the operation of a sawmill near Potter 



12 Rochester Democrat, & Chronicle, Nov. 20, 1936. Source material 
which tho author secured from this home is now in Coll. Wn. 

1:1 Mrs. Inane Loo Patterson to tho author, July 17, 1936. This La- 
vina Limlsley is not to be confused with the Levina Linsley to whom 
II. If. SpaldiuK WHS once o 



WHITMAN'S MEDICAL TRAINING 41 

Center. 14 Such experiences as teaching school, assisting in 
the shoeshop and tannery, and working in a sawmill gave 
Whitman some skills which proved to be of the utmost value 
to him in later years when circumstances made it necessary 
for him to provide for himself or do without. 

Jonathan Pratt's diary opens with a statement that he 
had been to Canandaigua, the county seat of Ontario County, 
where he heard an oration by Mr. J. C. Spencer, who was a 
lawyer of that city. Mr. Spencer later became Secretary of 
War and then Secretary of Treasury in President Tyler's 
cabinet and was of great assistance to Marcus Whitman in 
1843 when he was in Washington. In all probability Whit- 
man also knew Spencer at the time mentioned by his friend 
Jonathan. 

After completing a term of school teaching on February 
23, 1824, Jonathan began his medical studies under Dr. 
Bryant. On March 5 he went to Bethel, now called Gorham, 
where he got a "cranium or scull." On March 15 he wrote : 
"Friday amnesty declared between J. P. & M. W." Nowhere 
in the diary is the name Marcus Whitman mentioned, but 
twice he gives the initial letters "M. W." which seem to refer 
to Marcus. Perhaps in this entry of March 15 we can assume 
that the amnesty was declared between Jonathan Pratt and 
Marcus Whitman. 

On April 4, Pratt described what was expected of the 
medical student : 

Saturday finished Anatomy & was pleased to get through for I 
found a great part of it verry dry study, but think of the different 
parts of which it is composed, viz. Muscles, bloodvessels, Lymphatics 
and Nerves, that the Muscles is the most perplexing. When shall I get 
through with my studies; two long years (if I live) before I can attend 
a course of medical lectures one course of which being three months 
will complete my studies. 

Here Jonathan states quite clearly that a medical student 
was expected to study two years under a local physician and 
then have three months in a medical school before receiving 
his license. This was the procedure followed by Marcus 
Whitman. 

On July 1 Pratt wrote : " . . . heard a controversy between 
Dr. C. and M. W. respecting some observations made by the 
latter." From other references we learn that Dr. C. is Dr. 
Chatterton, and we can believe that M. W. is Marcus Whit- 



14 Eells, Marcus Whitman, p. 23. 



42 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

man. No further information has been discovered about Dr. 
Chatterton, and we are left in doubt regarding the nature of 
the controversy. A few days later Jonathan himself had a 
controversy with the same doctor and wrote : " . . . think he 
is not a verry likely fellow considering the stories." 
, After spending the summer and fall of 1824 "riding 
with Dr. Bryant," Jonathan returned to school teaching at 
Middlesex in December, 1824. In May of the next year he 
resumed his medical studies. On the 29th of that month he 
rode to Penn Yan "to hear a student examined for the pur- 
pose of getting a diploma and entering into the practice of 
physic." By an act of the New York Legislature in 1806, 
county medical societies were given the authority to examine 
all who desired to practice "physic and surgery" and if 
judged competent to license the same. Jonathan Pratt re- 
ferred to the license as a "diploma." 

No mention is made of Whitman, nor even of his initials, 
in Pratt's diary for 1825. Since Jonathan did not begin his 
studies with Dr. Bryant until May 22, and since Whitman 
enrolled in the medical college at Fairfield, Herkimer Coun- 
ty, on October 3 of that year, it is possible that Whitman had 
received from Dr. Bryant all the training the local physician 
could give. In November, 1825, Jonathan returned to school 
teaching, and in April of the following year he "concluded to 
recommence the study of physic." On September 2, 1826, Dr. 
Ira Bryant addressed the following communication to Doc- 
tor Cleveland, of Benton: 

Dear Sir Doct Pratt the bearer of this has been a student of mine his 
term of study being Towards a completion he wishes to come under the 
wing of some practioner that- he may gain a livelyhood. Doct Pratt is 
a man well informed in Physic and I can recommend him to you a(s) a 
man of good morals and strict veracity. If you could help him to a 
place you would confer a great favor on him and oblige your friend 
and humble servant. 

From this it appears that Jonathan had secured sufficient 
training under Dr. Bryant to enable him to secure a license 
from the county medical society. The title "Doct." was used 
even by those who did not have an M.D. degree. The title 
then signified an occupation and not an education. 

WHITMAN AT FAIRFIELD 

Not one of the several biographers of Marcus Whitman 
has given correctly the facts regarding his medical training. 
It is commonly reported that he was graduated with an M.D. 



Cooper's Kbit Lines of the Prac tins of 
Surgery, 4th ed. j Dorsey'e Elements of Sui-erv : 

* " * <i ' * *' * ' 

JJoyers Surgery. 



X OBSTETRICS. 



Burns' Principlen of Midwifery, by Dr. James: 
Den man's Midwifery , by'ilr. Pranci*; Dcwm* 
Abridgment of Baudelocfjue's Midwifery, m- De- 
wee** Midwifery. 



OX CHEMISTRY. 



Brande's Manual of Chemistry, or (Jorham** Hie 
meota of Chemical Science ; Thonoii% Sy^trru < 
Chemistry, by Dr. Cooper; Harked Chenmal C'.r 
echistn, and flat*s edition of Henry's '!u*iuiirv. 



OX MATEHIA MKIMCA. 



Beck's 51 array's Ma teri.i Medica, and thr l*ha: 
Jaacoptt'ia of the t'niu. 1 St 



ON MJ.-M I NT.. 

Oulleti's Practice of Phy^ir, with Notr- fiy 0; 
Caldwell ; Armstrong** Work* ; HcdtugKHd"*; (*<'<' 
peadium, 

OX ANATOMY AM) l'II\ sU.ot,\ . 

Bell's, Fyfe*s or Wi^tars Anatomy; Hjtillie* 
Morbid Anatomy ; London Di^scrttn- ; M/i^;Mnlit" 
Elements of Physiology. 

r.Xl'KNSKS. 

Tickets fer attend ins; the Lcrtureb art- u> lolh\\* 
For Anatomy and Phy^iolo^y, ^i- 

Chcmfctry audMateria Medka. } - 

PAGE FROM THE CATALOG OF THE FAIRFIELD MEDICAL COLLEGE. 

Medical textbooks recommended by the Fairfield Medical College 
catalog of 1825-26. 



' 

Midwifery, I 

Practice and Medical Jurisprudence, 10 
To be paid on (akins; outtbe Tickets. 

T/J/H regulation irill hereafter he striftlti and in- 
variably . -H forced. 

V / 

The whole expense for Tickets, Board, Wood,&c. 
during a row-He, need not exceed 100 dollars. 

Any further information that may lie desired res- 
pecting the regulations of the institution, either as to 
the Le< -UIITS or the requisitions for graduation, may 
be readily obtained by applying to the following; in- 

I-.*. *'fta*'O ZJ 

umduals : 



Joseph White, !/. />. Frtsident 
t'h"rrv- \ alley, Otsego county. 

Westd li'illouuthhif, Jl. /I. Vice- President, &c. 
Newport, Herkimer county. 

Janteti Hartley* !/. />. Fail-field, Herkimer counU. 
T. Itnnn-jfn fork. .I/. />. Albany. 

JAA1KS IIADI.KV. /tester. 

N.B. A summer course on Chemistry, will he de- 
livered by Dr. lladlev. to commence on the first 
Monday in June next, and to continue >i\ weeks, - 
Ticket fee 



Dr. Leu is C. Beck, of Albany, will on the 3d 
Monday in June, commence u course of Lectures on 
Botany, to continue four weeks. Ticket fee Si. 

4. " 

ANOTHER PAGE FROM THE FAIRFIELD MEDICAL COLLEGE 
CATALOG OF 1825-26. 



WHITMAN'S MEDICAL TRAINING 43 

degree from Fairfield in 1824, whereas he did not actually 
receive this degree until 1832. Some writers state that he 
attended the Berkshire Medical Institution at Pittsfield, 
Massachusetts. 15 Recent research has uncovered source ma- 
terial which removes all doubt of when and where Whitman 
received his professional training. 16 

Marcus Whitman enrolled in the College of Physicians 
and Surgeons of the Western District of New York, located 
at Fairfield, Herkimer County, New York, on October 3, 
1825. Among the source documents that tell the story of 
Whitman's medical training is the original ticket given by 
Dr. Westel Willoughby to Marcus Whitman on October 3 
upon the payment of ten dollars as tuition for "Lectures on 
Midwifery." On the back the ticket bears the endorsement 
of Dr. Willoughby in his handwriting. 17 

Fairfield College was chartered in 1812 and was called 
the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Western Dis- 
trict of New York to distinguish it from the College of 
Physicians and Surgeons of the Southern District of New 
York, located in New York City. When Whitman enrolled 
at Fairfield early in October, 1825, he found on the faculty 
Doctors Westel Willoughby, Joseph White, T. Romeyn 
Beck, James Hadley, and James McNaughton. Dr. Wil- 
loughby was one of the founders of the school and its head 
for nearly thirty years. Under his leadership the Fairfield 
school grew until it reached its peak enrollment of 217 
students in the year 1833-34. 18 

In the sixteen-week session of 1825-26, when Whitman 
first enrolled, there were 130 students. When he returned 
for the 1831-32 session, Fairfield College ranked third among 
the medical schools of the nation in point of size, for it then 
had an enrollment of 205. In 1839 the trustees voted to close 
the school after the graduation in 1840, for they realized 
that the school's greatest usefulness was over. Fairfield was 
out of the way and could not provide the clinical facilities 
found elsewhere. Competing schools, more favorably lo- 



15 Mowry, Marcus Whitman, p. 62. Dyer, History of Plainfield, 
p. 93. Dr. F. C. Waite, of Cleveland, examined the complete list of stu- 
dents of this institution without finding Whitman's name. 

16 O.H.Q., Sept. 1936, carried an article by Dr. F. C. Waite on 
"The Medical Education of Marcus Whitman." 
" Coll. U. 

18 Transactions of the Med. Soc. of the State of N. Y., Vol. 4, Par. 
3, p. 160. 



44 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

cated, were attracting the students. The school closed while 
its reputation was still high. 19 

Among the graduates and faculty members of the Fair- 
field College were many who won enduring fame. Asa Gray 
(1810-1888) received his M.D. from Fairfield in 1831 and 
afterwards lectured there to the medical students on botany. 
Possibly Whitman was one of his students. Gray after- 
wards served at both the University of Michigan and Har- 
vard University. Daniel Brainard, once a student at Fair- 
field, founded Rush Medical College with a faculty almost 
all of whom were Fairfield men. One of these men was Dr. 
N. S. Davis, who organized the American Medical Associa- 
tion in 1847. Altogether about twelve hundred men attended 
the Fairfield Medical College for one or two years. Among 
them, in 1835-36, was Martin, the son of President Van 
Buren. His father was at that time Vice-President under 
Jackson. Many of these men went West and became doctors 
in frontier communities. 

Dr. F. C. Waite, of the Western Reserve Medical School, 
Cleveland, Ohio, who is an outstanding authority on the 
history of the early medical schools of our country, states : 

I say advisedly and with much familiarity with all the medical 
schools of that period that no other school in the United States could 
have trained Whitman for the work he was to do as a frontier physician 
as could Fairfield, for that was the purpose of the school, namely, to 
train men for frontier work. 20 

It was natural for Whitman to decide on Fairfield. The 
school was nearer to his home than any other medical college. 
The cost was reasonable. The catalog for 1825-26 advertised : 
"The whole expense for Tickets, Board, Wood, &c. during a 
course, not to exceed 100 dollars." The cost of the tickets 
alone for the courses offered that term amounted to fifty- 
four dollars. 21 

Regarding the books to be used in the different courses, 
the catalog declared: 

It is recommended to Students, that they furnish themselves with 
some of the most approved works on each branch of instruction, as a 
sufficient number of copies may not be at hand to supply a large class. 22 



19 O.H.Q., June, 1936, contains an article on the history of Fairfield 
College by Dr. 0. Larsell, of Portland. 

20 Letter to author, July, 1935. 

21 A copy of the catalog is in the New York State Library, Albany, 
N. Y. Photostat copy in Coll. Wn. This shows that Whitman registered 
from Gorham, the township in which his native place was located. 

22 Medical colleges then rented textbooks to the students. 




ONE OF WHITMAN'S MEDICAL "TICKETS." 

These "tickets" were issued to medical students to show that they had 
paid the tuition for the lectures indicated. This is made out in Dr. 
Willoughby's handwriting. Original owned by Miss Underwood. 




THE FAIRFIELD MEDICAL COLLEGE. 

From Benton, History of Herkimer County, p. 229. 

Only the central building is now standing, being used as a grange hall. 
The two buildings to the right belonged to the medical school. A monu- 
ment erected in 1923 on the site bears the following inscription: 

"On this campus Fairfield Academy was founded in 1802, the 
funds being raised by a committee headed by Captain Moses 
Mather. In 1803 was incorporated by the Regents of the Uni- 
versity of the State of New York and in 1812 the College of 
Physicians and Surgeons was established continuing until 1839 
and graduated 555 physicians. The academy was continued and 
reorganized as Fairfield Seminary in 1839 for the higher educa- 
tion of both men and women conducted as a military academy 
from 1891 to 1902." 



44 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

cated, were attracting the students. The school closed while 
its reputation was still high. 19 

Among the graduates and faculty members of the Fair- 
field College were many who won enduring fame. Asa Gray 
(1810-1888) received his M.D. from Fairfield in 1831 and 
afterwards lectured there to the medical students on botany. 
Possibly Whitman was one of his students. Gray after- 
wards served at both the University of Michigan and Har- 
vard University. Daniel Brainard, once a student at Fair- 
field, founded Rush Medical College with a faculty almost 
all of whom were Fairfield men. One of these men was Dr. 
N. S. Davis, who organized the American Medical Associa- 
tion in 1847. Altogether about twelve hundred men attended 
the Fairfield Medical College for one or two years. Among 
them, in 1835-36, was Martin, the son of President Van 
Buren. His father was at that time Vice-President under 
Jackson. Many of these men went West and became doctors 
in frontier communities. 

Dr. F. C. Waite, of the Western Reserve Medical School, 
Cleveland, Ohio, who is an outstanding authority on the 
history of the early medical schools of our country, states : 

I say advisedly and with much familiarity with all the medical 
schools of that period that no other school in the United States could 
have trained Whitman for the work he was to do as a frontier physician 
as could Fairfield, for that was the purpose of the school, namely, to 
train men for frontier work. 20 

It was natural for Whitman to decide on Fairfield. The 
school was nearer to his home than any other medical college. 
The cost was reasonable. The catalog for 1825-26 advertised : 
"The whole expense for Tickets, Board, Wood, &c. during a 
course, not to exceed 100 dollars." The cost of the tickets 
alone for the courses offered that term amounted to fifty- 
four dollars. 21 

Regarding the books to be used in the different courses, 
the catalog declared: 

It is recommended to Students, that they furnish themselves with 
some of the most approved works on each branch of instruction, as a 
sufficient number of copies may not be at hand to supply a large class. 22 



19 O.H.Q., June, 1936, contains an article on the history of Fairfield 
College by Dr. O. Larsell, of Portland. 

20 Letter to author, July, 1935. 

21 A copy of the catalog is in the New York State Library, Albany, 
N. Y. Photostat copy in Coll. Wn. This shows that Whitman registered 
from Gorham, the township in which his native place was located. 

22 Medical colleges then rented textbooks to the students. 




/ 



ONE OP WHITMAN'S MEDICAL "TICKETS." 

These "tickets" were issued to medical students to show that they had 
paid the tuition for the lectures indicated. This is made out in Dr. 
Willoughby's handwriting. Original owned by Miss Underwood. 




THE FAIRFIELD MEDICAL COLLEGE. 

From Benton, History of Herhimer County, p. 229. 

Only the central building is now standing, being used as a grange hall. 
The two buildings to the right belonged to the medical school. A monu- 
ment erected in 1923 on the site bears the following inscription : 

"On this campus Fairfield Academy was founded in 1802, the 
funds being raised by a committee headed by Captain Moses 
Mather. In 1803 was incorporated by the Regents of the Uni- 
versity of the State of New York and in 1812 the College of 
Physicians and Surgeons was established continuing until 1839 
and graduated 555 physicians. The academy was continued and 
reorganized as Fairfield Seminary in 1839 for the higher educa- 
tion of both men and women conducted as a military academy 
from 1891 to 1902." 




Dr. Westel Willoughby, Jr. 
(1769-1844). 

Photographed from oil portrait in posses- 
sion of a descendant of Dr. Willoughby. 
Artist and date of portrait is not known. 




Dr. Joseph White (1763-1832). 

From Williams, Descendants of Thomas 
White of Weymovth, Mass. Only twenty- 
five copies of this book were printed. 





Dr. T. Romeyn Beck (1781-1855). Dr. James Hadley (1785-1869). 



From American Journal of Insanity, Vol 
12, 1855. 



From picture in the possession of the wid- 
ow of his grandson, former President 
Hadley of Yale. 




Dr. James McNaughton 
(1769-1874). 

Taken about 1862. From Tribute to Mem- 
ory of Dr. James McNaughton, Albany 
1875. 




Dr. John Delamater (1787-1867). 

From Cleve's Medical Biography. 



WHITMAN'S PROFESSORS AT THE FAIRFIELD MEDICAL COLLEGE. 

By courtesy of Dr. F. C. Waite, Cleveland, Ohio. 



WHITMAN'S MEDICAL TRAINING 45 

The popular prejudice against the use of human bodies 
for dissection by medical students was still strong in the 
days of Whitman's medical preparation. Sometimes the 
students would resort to "resurrection," as they called it, of 
recently buried bodies. Others with less imagination re- 
ferred to the practice as "grave robbing." The public natu- 
rally resented such practices, and oftentimes the medical 
schools as well as the individual students became involved in 
trouble. In the light of this knowledge, we can appreciate 
the following action taken by the Board of Trustees of Fair- 
field College on January 19, 1819 : 

A resolution was passed by the board of trustees dismissing any 
student who should be concerned directly or indirectly in digging up any 
dead human body, for the purpose of dissection in the college. 23 

The State of New York by legislative act of March 30, 
1820, gave to the college the bodies of convicts dying in the 
Auburn prison which were not claimed by relatives or 
friends. Dissection of a human body was, therefore, inci- 
dental and depended upon the success of the faculty in 
securing an occasional cadaver. Even so, Fairfield College 
was the only medical school in New York State where 
cadavers could legally be used for dissection. 

Anatomy was taught largely by lectures, accompanied by 
charts or demonstrations on a skeleton. The college had 
three buildings when Whitman first attended. One built of 
stone was called the Laboratory. In spite of such a name, the 
students had virtually no laboratory facilities as we now 
know them. Since the school was located in a village, which 
never had over two thousand inhabitants, there was no hos- 
pital or clinic near by in which the students might learn the 
art of healing from practical experience. In fact it was not 
until 1840 that medical students began to use a clinic even 
in the larger centers of study. 

Usually not more than one of the faculty members lived 
in Fairfield. The others came from a distance, sometimes 
as far away as New York City, to give an intensive series 
of lectures, sometimes two a day, and then depart. From 
time to time the State of New York gave financial assistance 
to the school. In 1812, an endowment of fifteen thousand 
dollars was given, and in 1820 an appropriation of one 
thousand dollars annually for five years was made. 24 



23 Benton, History of Herkimer County, p. 226. 
24 Ibid., p. 225. 




Dr. Westel Willouffhby, Jr. 
(17651-1844). 

I'hotogTaphed from oil portrait in posses- 
sion of a descendant of Dr. Willoughby. 
Artist and date of portrait is not known. 




Dr. Joseph White (1763-1832). 

From Willinnm, Dfxci'inluHlx of Thonnm 

\Vhil.i' of Wry mouth, Mann. Only twenty- 

live copies of this book were printed. 




Dr. T. Romevn Beck (1781-1855). 

From .-\nurira n Journal of Insanity, Vol. 
12, 1S55. 




Dr. James Hartley (1785-18(59). 

From picture in the possession of the wid- 
ow of his unuidson, former President 
Hadley of Yale. 




Dr. James MeNaughton 
(17GD-1874). 

T.-ikcn about !Siil2. From Ti-ihnti: to Mem- 
ory of Dr. JUIIH:S Mc.\'uii(jliton, Albany 
JS75. 




Dr. John Delamater (17S7-18G7), 

From Clove's Medical llioy 



WHITMAN'S PROFESSORS AT THE F AIRFIELD MEDICAL COLLEGE. 

Uy couri.csy of Dr. F. C. Waite, Cleveland, Ohio. 



WHITMAN'S MEDICAL TRAINING 45 

The popular prejudice against the use of human bodies 
for dissection by medical students was still strong in the 
days of Whitman's medical preparation. Sometimes the 
students would resort to "resurrection," as they called it, of 
recently buried bodies. Others with less imagination re- 
ferred to the practice as "grave robbing." The public natu- 
rally resented such practices, and oftentimes the medical 
schools as well as the individual students became involved in 
trouble. In the light of this knowledge, we can appreciate 
the following action taken by the Board of Trustees of Fair- 
field College on January 19, 1819 : 

A resolution was passed by the board of trustees dismissing any 
student who should be concerned directly or indirectly in digging up any 
dead human body, for the purpose of dissection in the college. 23 

The State of New York by legislative act of March 30, 
1820, gave to the college the bodies of convicts dying in the 
Auburn prison which were not claimed by relatives or 
friends. Dissection of a human body was, therefore, inci- 
dental and depended upon the success of the faculty in 
securing an occasional cadaver. Even so, Fairfield College 
was the only medical school in New York State where 
cadavers could legally be used for dissection. 

Anatomy was taught largely by lectures, accompanied by 
charts or demonstrations on a skeleton. The college had 
three buildings when Whitman first attended. One built of 
stone was called the Laboratory. In spite of such a name, the 
students had virtually no laboratory facilities as we now 
know them. Since the school was located in a village, which 
never had over two thousand inhabitants, there was no hos- 
pital or clinic near by in which the students might learn the 
art of healing from practical experience. In fact it was not 
until 1840 that medical students began to use a clinic even 
in the larger centers of study. 

Usually not more than one of the faculty members lived 
in Fairfield. The others came from a distance, sometimes 
as far away as New York City, to give an intensive series 
of lectures, sometimes two a day, and then depart. From 
time to time the State of New York gave financial assistance 
to the school. In 1812, an endowment of fifteen thousand 
dollars was given, and in 1820 an appropriation of one 
thousand dollars annually for five years was made. 2 ' 1 



2:5 Benton, History of Herkimcr County, p. 22(5. 
-- 1 Ibid., p. 225. 



46 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

In all probability William H. Gray, who later was asso- 
ciated with Marcus Whitman in the Oregon mission, was a 
fifteen-year-old boy living in the village of Fairfield when 
Whitman was a student at the medical school. Gray was 
born September 8, 1810, at Fairfield. 25 His father died in 
the winter of 1825-26, and in the following summer Gray 
moved to Springfield, Otsego County, New York. 26 If Gray 
spent his youth in the place where he was born, then the 
dates of his residence in the village overlap with those of 
Whitman. It is possible that the two at least knew each 
other's names, although no reference has been found in later 
records of any meeting during this time. 

THE NEXT FIVE YEARS 

Whitman finished his first sixteen-week session at Fair- 
field Medical College on January 23, 1826. He enrolled again 
about the 4th of October, 1831. We can trace out pnly par- 
tially his movements during that interval of more than five 
years. 

According to the custom of those days, a medical student 
could begin independent practice after attending but one 
session at a medical school. It has been estimated that about 
one half of the medical students of that period never re- 
turned to attend a second session and thereby earn an M.D. 
degree. Yet these freely spoke of having been "graduated" 
from a medical college, for then graduation was not always a 
synonym for having completed the full requirements. There 
were no graded courses in American medical schools until 
after the Civil War. A student who returned for the second 
session would hear the same lectures over again, unless 
there had been a change of professors in his absence. This 
caused many students to migrate from one school to another 
for the second session. 

Frequently a student would stay out of school for a 
year or more and engage in practice, and then return to the 
medical college. If successful in his examination, he would 
then receive the M.D. degree. If not successful, the student 
still practiced under the title of "doctor." 

On May 9, 1826, the Herkimer County Medical Society, 
of which Dr. Westel Willoughby was then president, granted 
a license to Marcus Whitman to practice medicine within 



25 Eells, Marcus Whitman, p. 320. 

26 Gray to the American Board, Feb. 17, 1836, Coll. A. 



WHITMAN'S MEDICAL TRAINING 47 

the State of New York. 27 By courtesy such a license was usu- 
ally good anywhere in the United States or Canada. There 
were no state licensing medical boards before 1841, so the 
only legal license a doctor could have was that issued by the 
county society which received him. Since it was contrary 
to the usual custom for a county society to license a student 
who had spent but one session in a medical school, it seems 
that special recognition was given to Whitman because of 
his training under Dr. Bryant. These circumstances support 
the belief that Whitman studied at least two years with the 
Rushville physician. The date of Whitman's license is prob- 
ably the date of the annual or semiannual meeting of the 
society. Perhaps the examination itself came at an earlier 
time. 

The next authenticated date in the life of Marcus Whit- 
man is September 11, 1827, when Whitman wrote from 
Rushville to his friend Dr. Jonathan Pratt, then located at 
Sugargrove, Warren County, Pennsylvania, that he was 
then "Making preparation for going into the practice." Just 
what Whitman was doing during the eighteen months after 
leaving Fairfield, we do not know. 

Judging by some entries in Pratt's diary, it seems that 
Jonathan wrote to Marcus and begged him to take over the 
practice at Sugargrove for a short time. Jonathan was not 
in good health and wanted a vacation. In a history of War- 
ren County we find the following interesting item : 

His successor [i.e. Dr. Hiram Alden's] was Dr. Jonathan Pratt, a 
single man, who boarded with Henry Catlin three years, and then re- 
turned to Ontario County, N. Y. Then arrived another bachelor 
physician, Dr. Marcus Whitman, who boarded at Willson's Hotel. 
Several years afterward he was followed by Dr. Noah Weld. . . . 28 

This is the only direct statement that has yet been dis- 
covered to indicate that Marcus Whitman ever practiced 
medicine in Sugargrove. An examination of the tax rolls 
for Sugargrove shows that Dr. Jonathan Pratt was assessed 
as a physician one hundred dollars in 1828, and also for a 
horse worth forty dollars. In Pratt's diary we find the fol- 
lowing notation for March 8, 1828: "Sold out my ride to 
Dr. N. Weld for one hundred dollars." The next year Dr. 



27 Original owned by Mrs. Dudley Voorhees, Middlesex, N. Y. 

28 Schenck and Rann, History of Warren County, p. 435. The author 
visited Sugargrove in June, 1936. A sign on the edge of the village 
stated : "Sugargrove named for vast original Maple Forest. Founded 
1797." 



48 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Weld's name appears on the tax list, and for many years 
following. 29 

From a due consideration of the above facts and in the 
light of other well-established dates in Whitman's life, it 
appears safe to say that Whitman's medical practice in 
Sugargrove was of short duration. It did not cover a period 
of several years as intimated in the History of Warren 
County. Indeed were it not for the discovery of the two 
letters from Whitman to Pratt and some items in Pratt's 
diary for 1827, we should have reason to doubt that Whit- 
man ever lived in Sugargrove. 

In August, 1827, Jonathan complained in his diary about 
his ill health, and sometime during the latter part of the 
month or the first part of September, wrote to Dr. Whitman, 
asking him to go to Sugargrove. Dr. Whitman replied on 
September 11, saying in part: 

Friend Jonathan: I received your letter yesterday; it probably lay 
in the office several days I being absent to the east. 

I have been Making preparation for going into the practice: had 
calculated to go westward but not as soon as you require but as your 
health is so ill & you wish me to come and assist you I will endeavor to 
get ready the latter part of this or by monday of next week. I wish you 
to stay till I come. I have a hors and probably shall ride him. . . . 

Without any mention of the arrival of Dr. Whitman, 
Pratt wrote in his diary for September 27 : "My health still 
very poor Set out for Ontario. Arrived Oct. 7th." Pratt 
wrote of his departure from Rushville on November 26 and 
of his arrival at Sugargrove on December 13 "after a long 
and tedious journey owing to bad roads." On the 20th of the 
month he resumed his practice. Hence it is safe to say that 
Dr. Whitman practiced medicine in Sugargrove for a period 
of about two months, merely supplying for his friend 
Jonathan. 30 

WHITMAN IN CANADA 

Following Dr. Pratt's return, Whitman went to Upper 
Canada 31 to look for a good place to settle. One of Whitman's 



29 Courtesy of Frank Miller, Sugargrove, Penna. 

30 The original records of the Presbyterian church of Sugargrove, 
organized January 25, 1821, make no mention of Whitman. 

31 Canada was divided into two parts by the Ottawa River, Lower 
Canada and Upper Canada, the terms having reference to the course 
of the St. Lawrence River. The present province of Ontario is in 
Upper Canada. 



WHITMAN'S MEDICAL TRAINING 49 

schoolmates at Fairfield, Dr. James Hunter, 32 was practicing 
medicine in the Niagara Peninsula, and it may be that Whit- 
man went to see him. The following extracts are from 
Whitman's second letter to Pratt written from Rushville on 
February 5, 1828 : 

I write you, yet not as soon as I expected, or had ought; yet owing 
to staying so long in Canada it was not convenient to write as soon [as] 
we talked. 

I had a good journey with some exceptions but found it necessary to 
stay longer than I expected in Canada, I found my friend well and 
reddy to assist me as far as I could wish. I intend going to Canada but 
as to what particular place I shall occupy I do not know, or whether I 
shall take license this spring or go into copartnership with Hunter. I 
intend to return to Canada in a few days, as to the prospects v in Canada 
I cannot say precisely but I think they are better than at Sugargrove. 

-] A record in the minutes of the Rushville church to the 

| effect that Marcus Whitman reunited with that church on 

1 November 6, 1830, by letter from "the Presbyterian church 

in Gainsboro Upper Canada" supplies the information re- 
I garding where he settled. 33 This harmonizes with the last 

j entry in Pratt' s diary, dated May 2, 1828. Pratt wrote: 

I "Went to Canada crossing the river at Lewiston and con- 

tinued on in a Southwestern course to near forty mile 
Creek." It is quite possible that Pratt went to visit his friend 
Whitman, who might then have been settled in the little 
village of Snyders Mill, in Gainsboro township, which was 
' located in a southwestern direction from Lewiston. 

! Upper Canada at that time had no medical schools, and 

j consequently looked either to Great Britain or to the United 

; States for its doctors. Many of the students from Fairfield 

Medical College settled in Upper Canada, and likewise many 
of the Fairfield students came from that region. An exami- 

nation of the minutes of the Upper Canada Medical Board 
revealed the following : 

I July, 1829 Present: Widmer, Powell and Deihl. Peter Schofield 

I of Johnston District; J. E. Rankin of Ottawa District; William Mc- 

! Mahon of Hallowell; Marcus Whitman, Niagara District, and John 

i Hutcheson of Port Hope received certificates. 34 

i 

:i This action gave Whitman official permission to practice 



32 Hunter was registered in the 1825-26 term at Fairfield as being 
from Niagara, Upper Canada. 

33 No mention has been found of Whitman's dismissal from the 
Rushville church because those minutes were lost. 

34 Canniff, The Medical Profession in Upper Canada, p. 56. Italics, 
the author's. 



50 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

medicine in Upper Canada, although it appears that he was 
following his profession there before he received his cer- 
tificate. The phrase, "received certificates," means that 
Whitman and his companions were licensed without the 
necessity of being examined. Their training and previous 
experience elsewhere were found to be an acceptable sub- 
stitute. It is quite possible that this license by a British 
medical board was of value to Whitman in his later contacts 
with Hudson's Bay officials in Old Oregon. 

The little village of Snyders Mill in Gainsboro is now 
called St. Anns and is about twenty-five miles west of 
Niagara Falls. A visit to St. Anns in the summer of 1935 
helped to reconstruct the story of Whitman's experiences 
in Canada. The road from Niagara Falls to the village, now 
almost nonexistent, crosses the Welland Canal. The canal 
was opened in 1833 ; and, therefore, Whitman must have seen 
men at work upon the project. A reference to the 1829 
census of Upper Canada shows that the County of Lincoln, 
in which Gainsboro was located, and which then included 
the present County of Welland, had less than twenty thou- 
sand inhabitants. The settlements were largely along the 
two lake shores and along the Niagara River. The digging 
of the canal undoubtedly stimulated the whole region and 
may have been a factor which led Whitman to settle there. 
Pratt states that he found the country "altogether more 
pleasant than I had anticipated. Inhabitants are generaly 
wealthy." 

All memory of Whitman's residence there has been for- 
gotten. Not a single tradition lingers of the young doctor 
from the States who once ministered to the bodily needs of 
the inhabitants. 

After a residence of about two years and a half in Canada, 
Whitman returned to Rushville. 35 He wanted to go back to 
his first love, the ministry. We are somewhat surprised at 
such a decision, for Whitman was then twenty-eight years 
old. His later success as a doctor can be taken as an indica- 
tion of his skill in his earlier years. It was unusual for a 
man of his age to think of taking the required seven years 
of college and seminary work for ordination. Just why did 
he go back? 

Again we must surmise. It may be that a new doctor had 
moved into his community, bringing undesirable competi- 



35 This is in correction of the statement made by Mary Alice Wise- 
well to the effect that Whitman spent four years in Canada. 



WHITMAN'S MEDICAL TRAINING 51 

tion. Our only definite information comes from Whitman's 
letter of June 27, 1834, wherein he wrote : "In the fall of 
1830 I gave up the practise of my profession and entered 
upon a course of study preparatory to the ministry." 

HE RETURNS TO RUSHVILLE 

According to a tradition held by some of the descendants 
of Thomas Saunders (1764-1846), a pioneer resident of 
Rushville, Marcus Whitman was married to Persia 36 Saun- 
ders, a daughter of Thomas. This is extremely unlikely, for 
Persia's tombstone in the French Cemetery at Rushville 
gives her maiden name and states that she was born July 
12, 1807 and died March 28, 1830. Surely if this^marriage 
had taken place, it would have been remembered by Rush- 
ville residents who lived on into the period when Whitman 
had become a national figure. It is possible that Marcus 
Whitman was engaged to Persia Saunders and that with the 
passing of the years the tradition became confused in re- 
gard to some of the facts. The fact that Christopher Saun- 
ders, a brother of Persia, and Augustus Whitman each mar- 
ried into the Putney family, thus becoming brothers-in-law, 
may have added confusion to the theory. 

Whitman's pastor in Rushville, under whom he may have 
resumed his theological studies, was the Rev. Joseph 
Brackett (1781-1832). Mr. Brackett had been installed 
pastor on February 23, 1826, succeeding Mr. Page. Records 
show that Mr. Brackett died September 24, 1832, after a 
period of ill-health. The minute book of the Rushville church 
carries the record : "He was a man of piety, of amiable de- 
portment and faithful in the discharge of ministerial duty." 
His successor was the Rev. H. P. Strong, who was not in- 
stalled until January, 1833. 37 

We know little of Whitman's activities from the time 
he returned from Canada in the fall of 1830 to the time he 
re-entered Fairfield Medical College in October, 1831. As 
has been mentioned, he reunited with the Rushville church 
on November 6, 1830. In his letter of June 27, 1834, Whit- 
man wrote as follows regarding his theological studies : "I 
had not continued long, when for want of active exercise I 
found my health become impaired by a pain in the left side 

36 Tombstone located by Robert Moody, of Rushville. This tradition 
was called to the author's attention by A. L. Saunders, of Canton, 111. 
Persia's name was pronounced Per-si'a. 

37 Centennial Celebration, p. 7. 



52 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

which I attributed to an inflamation of the spleen." For a 
time he gave up his studies and then went back only to find 
the old trouble recurring. "Then I used exercise," he wrote, 
"and continued it for a number of months when I found I 
was not able to study and returned to the practice of my 
profession." [Letter 4.] A question naturally arises if his 
health prevented his continuing his theological studies, how 
was he able to return to his medical studies ? For want of 
fuller information we must leave this unanswered. 

HE RETURNS TO FAIRPIELD 

In October, 1831, Whitman again enrolled in Fairfield 
Medical College for another course of sixteen weeks. Per- 
haps he had realized the folly of trying to prepare for the 
ministry at his age. He was convinced that his best policy 
was to continue in the work in which he had been trained. 
He coveted the M.D. degree for the added prestige it would 
give. 

Whitman found that the medical school had grown dur- 
ing the five years and more in which he had been away. 
Only one change had been made in the faculty. Dr. White 
had retired in 1827 and was succeeded by Dr. John Dela- 
mater. Dr. Delamater was an eminent physician and a suc- 
cessful teacher. Whitman was highly favored in having the 
opportunity to study under such men as Willoughby and 
Delamater, the latter of whom taught in eight different 
medical schools between the years 1823 and 1843. Dela- 
mater founded the present School of Medicine of Western 
Reserve University at Cleveland, Ohio, in 1843. 38 

Whitman returned to the medical school with that new 
zest for learning that comes after one has been out in the 
world for several years. He was older. He had had ex- 
perience. His perspective was changed. No longer was he 
dealing with mere theories ; he was dealing with facts that 
might mean life or death to his patients in later years. 

The session ended in January, 1832, when thirty-nine re- 
ceived their medical degrees. The recent discovery of the 
minutes of the Board of Trustees completes the picture of 
Whitman's medical training. 39 His thesis was entitled 
"Caloric." The word caloric was then applied, according to 
Dr. F. C. Waite, "to some subtle influence that caused the 



38 Waite, "John Delamater," Bulletin of the Cleveland Academy of 
Medicine, May, 1930. 

39 Discovered by Dr. Waite in the New York State Library, Albany. 



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WHITMAN'S MEDICAL TRAINING 53 

heat of the body." Whitman was studying normal tempera- 
tures and fevers. He was pioneering in medical thought, 
for, strange as it may seem to us now, the doctors then 
failed to appreciate the value of bodily temperatures as a 
factor in the diagnosis of disease. Would that we had a 
copy of his thesis. 

In the minutes of the trustees for January 24, 1832, we 
can read : 

After the reading of the Thesis by the candidates for graduation, 
and it being certified by the Register that they had individually complied 
with the requirements of the Laws of this state and the ordinances of 
the college, It was resolved that they be recommended to the Regents 
of the University for the Degree of Doctor of Medicine. 

Thereafter Marcus Whitman could rightfully, and not 
merely by courtesy, be called Doctor Marcus Whitman. He 
was a well-trained physician, much better qualified than 
the average doctor of his day. He had studied under capable 
men. His academic work had been supplemented with years 
of actual experience, and finally, his degree came from the 
University of the State of New York, which added to his 
medical reputation. Thus, at the age of twenty-nine, Marcus 
Whitman found himself equipped for his life's work, but 
the stage on which he was to play a major role was not then 
quite ready for his appearance. 



CHAPTER THREE 

THREE YEARS AT WHEELER 
1832-1835 

rpHE village of Wheeler, New York, is to be found in 
J- Steuben County, nine miles north of Bath and six miles 
south of Prattsburg. It is located in the valley of Five-Mile 
Creek, a tributary of the Cohocton River. Low glaciated 
drumlin hills line the two sides of the valley, which is about 
a mile wide at that point. 1 

At a crossroads in the village today is a big boulder on 
which is fastened a memorial plaque to inform all who will 
pause to read that once on that spot stood the medical office 
of Dr. Marcus Whitman. The original building has been 
moved across the street and converted into a garage and 
woodshed. 

On the highway about two miles south of the village is 
a marker which points out the place where Henry Harmon 
Spalding was born on November 26, 1803. At that time 
Marcus Whitman was a babe a little more than a year old 
with his parents at Rushville, twenty-five or thirty miles to 
the north. How strange that these two, who were to be asso- 
ciated for eleven years in the Oregon mission of the American 
Board, should each have had contacts with the little village of 
Wheeler. 

Even in 1832 Wheeler was still a pioneer community. 
The population was small, probably not over one hundred. 
Round about were scattered families who were farming the 
clearings. The people had little ready money. Like other 
professional people of his time, Whitman must have been 
obliged to accept produce in payment for his services, or 
go unpaid. According to one tradition, Whitman lived in the 
home of Thomas Aulls, located on the north edge of the 
village. 2 

Whitman's practice was largely in the country. Roads 



1 The first settlers arrived there about 1800, among them Captain 
Silas Wheeler, who gave his name to the village. Drury, Spalding, p. 20. 

a Aulls died in 1846. His son Ephraim (1809-1880) had the saddle- 
bags of Dr. Whitman. These passed into the possession of the Presby- 
terian Historical Society in June, 1936. 



THREE YEARS AT WHEELER 55 

were poor, and buggies few and expensive. Hence we can 
m believe that Whitman rode horseback most of the time. He 
might have had to ride ten or fifteen miles in one direction to 
8 see a patient and find upon his return home a call to go 
a similar distance in the opposite direction. If a doctor could 
keep up his practice by keeping but one horse, it was evident 
that his ride was not extensive and that he could not be a 
popular or competent doctor. Such a man was designated a 
"one-horse doctor," and the expression "one horse" came to 
be applied generally as a derogatory term to indicate medi- 
ocrity. 

Whitman's methods, medicines, and instruments, like 
1 those of the other doctors of his day, were ^as primitive as 
! the community in which he lived. He carried no thermome- 
j ter, for medical schools did not teach the value of tempera- 
| ture in diagnosis. Very few stethoscopes were used by the 
! doctors, so it is doubtful if Whitman had one. A set of am- 
'1 putating knives cost about fifty dollars. Whitman probably 
' secured such a set early in his professional career, together 
with such other instruments as lances and scalpels. The 
doctor was the dentist as well, and with the aid of a turnkey 
would extract a tooth, frequently leaving a splinter of the 
' tooth in the jaw. The cost for such a service was usually 
I ten cents. 

It is safe to say that Dr. Whitman did not have any 
obstetrical forceps, because his professor of obstetrics, Dr. 
Westel Willoughby, was much opposed to their use. The 
germ theory of disease was unknown. Sometimes the doc- 
tors would boil their instruments, but usually they were 
merely wiped clean and put away. Some of the instruments 
had wooden handles. It was the common belief that suppura- 
tion was essential to healing, and much was said about 
"laudable pus" until as late as 1870. The properties of iodine 
as a disinfectant were somewhat appreciated, although the 
real reason for its effectiveness was unknown. Sometimes 
a weak solution of lye was used. 

Because of the belief that disease was caused by an excess 
of blood, the doctors of that day practiced bleeding. It was 
a remedy which had been used for centuries. No anesthetic 
with its merciful power of producing unconsciousness was 
then known. In amputation cases, the patient might be made 
drunk with liquor, or in case of women or children stupefied 
with heavy doses of opium. Frequently they were held by 
strong men while the doctor worked as fast as he could. 



56 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Skillful surgeons boasted that they could amputate an arm 
in three minutes, and a leg in five. Only a favored few doctors 
had a surgical saw. They usually used the ordinary car- 
penter's fine-toothed saw. 

The physician of a hundred years ago had to be his own 
apothecary. Only the largest towns boasted drug stores, so 
the doctor had to know how to prepare his own pills. Very 
few medicines were given in liquid form. The doctor would 
buy his drugs in bulk in crude form, and then would pul- 
verize them in a hand mortar. Inventories of the drugs used 
a century ago indicate that a good doctor would have about 
fifty different kinds. Great reliance was placed on calomel. 
When Dr. Whitman rode his district, he would take with 
him quantities of various kinds of drugs. These would 
be carried in his saddlebags. Thus he was able to supply the 
medicines needed at the time. 

False teeth were reserved only for the wealthy, and even 
so, they were ill-fitting and uncomfortable. Spectacles were 
available for those who had weak eyes, but these were fitted 
by the trial-and-error method, usually with no consideration 
of the fact that one eye might be out of adjustment with the 
other. Thus a pair of spectacles often did more harm than 
good. Sometimes the same pair would be used by several 
members of the family, as by turn they read the weekly 
newspaper. 

Such were the medical conditions of one hundred years 
ago. 

The business side is of interest. A doctor usually re- 
ceived twenty-five cents for a call at his home, and the fee 
included the medicine. The fee was doubled if the doctor 
called on the patient, provided the patient lived within five 
miles. Beyond that distance he charged six and one-fourth 
cents for each mile. An obstetrical case would pay from 
two to five dollars. Ten dollars was the usual fee for ampu- 
tating a leg. 3 

Yet in spite of the limitations and handicaps under which 
Whitman worked, as compared with modern-day conditions, 
we know that Whitman was equipped as successful physi- 
cians and surgeons must ever be equipped, in that he had a 
personality which inspired faith and confidence. The people 



3 Dr. F. C. Waite furnished most of the material regarding this 
section on medical conditions of a century ago. See his article, "The 
Equipment of a Country Doctor of Northern Ohio in 1822," Ohio State 
Medical Journal, July, 1936. 




WHITMAN'S SADDLEBAGS USED AT WHEELER. 

By courtesy of the Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia. 



56 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Skillful surgeons boasted that they could amputate an arm 
in three minutes, and a leg in five. Only a favored few doctors 
had a surgical saw. They usually used the ordinary car- 
penter's fine-toothed saw. 

The physician of a hundred years ago had to be his own 
apothecary. Only the largest towns boasted drug stores, so 
the doctor had to know how to prepare his own pills. Very 
few medicines were given in liquid form. The doctor would 
buy his drugs in bulk in crude form, and then would pul- 
verize them in a hand mortar. Inventories of the drugs used 
a century ago indicate that a good doctor would have about 
fifty different kinds. Great reliance was placed on calomel. 
When Dr. Whitman rode his district, he would take with 
him quantities of various kinds of drugs. These would 
be carried in his saddlebags. Thus he was able to supply the 
medicines needed at the time. 

False teeth were reserved only for the wealthy, and even 
so, they were ill-fitting and uncomfortable. Spectacles were 
available for those who had weak eyes, but these were fitted 
by the trial-and-error method, usually with no consideration 
of the fact that one eye might be out of adjustment with the 
other. Thus a pair of spectacles often did more harm than 
good. Sometimes the same pair would be used by several 
members of the family, as by turn they read the weekly 
newspaper. 

Such were the medical conditions of one hundred years 
ago. 

The business side is of interest. A doctor usually re- 
ceived twenty-five cents for a call at his home, and the fee 
included the medicine. The fee was doubled if the doctor 
called on the patient, provided the patient lived within five 
miles. Beyond that distance he charged six and one-fourth 
cents for each mile. An obstetrical case would pay from 
two to five dollars. Ten dollars was the usual fee for ampu- 
tating a leg. 3 

Yet in spite of the limitations and handicaps under which 
Whitman worked, as compared with modern-day conditions, 
we know that Whitman was equipped as successful physi- 
cians and surgeons must ever be equipped, in that he had a 
personality which inspired faith and confidence. The people 



3 Dr. F. C. Waite furnished most of the material regarding this 
section on medical conditions of a century ago. See his article, "The 
Equipment of a Country Doctor of Northern Ohio in 1822," Ohio State 
Medical Journal, July, 1936. 




WHITMAN'S SADDLEBAGS USED AT WHEELER. 

By courtesy of the Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia. 




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THREE YEARS AT WHEELER 57 

of Wheeler and vicinity grew to trust and to love him. After 
Whitman had practiced medicine at Wheeler for about three 
years, the rumor started that he was going to Oregon with 
the Rev. Samuel Parker. The following quotation from a 
letter written by Parker, January 1, 1835, to the American 
Board reveals the attitude of the Wheeler citizens to the 
proposition : 

I am afraid that the people in Wheeler and the vicinity on account 
of their [being] unwilling to spare one whom they so highly esteem as 
a physician and Christian, will dissuade him from offering himself. 
I shall write him without delay. 

Little did Marcus Whitman suspect as he rode the byways 
of Steuben County during 1832, 1833, and 1834, that he was 
preparing himself for the first great emergency in the 
settlement of Old Oregon. If any year in the history of our 
country tried the souls of its physicians, it was 1832. In that 
year Asiatic cholera came to the United States. 

During the World War of 1914-18, Spanish influenza 
spread from city to city, from country to country, across the 
oceans and around the world with terrifying rapidity, leav- 
ing behind millions of newly made graves. A century 
earlier, or, to be exact, in 1817, Asiatic cholera sprang up in 
Bengal, and began its death march around the world. Trans- 
portation was slower then, but the march once begun never 
stopped even though at times it was delayed. It swept across 
Russia and Poland and by the summer of 1831 reached Ber- 
lin. There the epidemic claimed seven thousand lives. By 
November of that year it had reached Scotland. In Febru- 
ary, 1832, the dread disease had spread to London, and by 
March it was in Liverpool. In June it crossed the Atlantic in 
a boat from Belfast bound for Quebec, and within a week 
after its arrival in America, it was in Montreal, whence it 
spread southward through the waterways down to New York, 
and across New York State along the Erie Canal to the 
Great Lakes. Cases were reported in Detroit on July 5, and 
soldiers going to the Black Hawk War carried the epidemic 
to Chicago. Others were convenient carriers, spreading the 
disease along the Mississippi River, and by mid-September 
it was epidemic in New Orleans. 

The terror of the people was nearly as dreadful as the 
disease itself. And they had reason to be afraid, for the 
disease struck with fearful rapidity. Oftentimes people left 
their homes in the morning apparently in the best of health, 
only to be dead before sundown. From the records of reliable 



THREE YEARS AT WHEELER 57 

of Wheeler and vicinity grew to trust and to love him. After 
Whitman had practiced medicine at Wheeler for about three 
years, the rumor started that he was going to Oregon with 
the Rev. Samuel Parker. The following quotation from a 
letter written by Parker, January 1, 1835, to the American 
Board reveals the attitude of the Wheeler citizens to the 
proposition : 

I am afraid that the people in Wheeler and the vicinity on account 
of their [being] unwilling to spare one whom they so highly esteem as 
a physician and Christian, will dissuade him from offering himself. 
1 shall write him without delay. 

Little did Marcus Whitman suspect as he rode the byways 
of Steuben County during 1832, 1833, and 1834, that he was 
preparing himself for the first great emergency in the 
settlement of Old Oregon. If any year in the history of our 
country tried the souls of its physicians, it was 1832. In that 
year Asiatic cholera came to the United States. 

During the World War of 1914-18, Spanish influenza 
spread from city to city, from country to country, across the 
oceans and around the world with terrifying rapidity, leav- 
ing behind millions of newly made graves. A century 
earlier, or, to be exact, in 1817, Asiatic cholera sprang up in 
Bengal, and began its death march around the world. Trans- 
portation was slower then, but the march once begun never 
stopped even though at times it was delayed. It swept across 
Russia and Poland and by the summer of 1831 reached Ber- 
lin. There the epidemic claimed seven thousand lives. By 
November of that year it had reached Scotland. In Febru- 
ary, 1832, the dread disease had spread to London, and by 
March it was in Liverpool. In June it crossed the Atlantic in 
a boat from Belfast bound for Quebec, and within a week 
after its arrival in America, it was in Montreal, whence it 
spread southward through the waterways clown to New York, 
and across New York State along the Erie Canal to the 
Great Lakes. Cases were reported in Detroit on July 5, and 
soldiers going to the Black Hawk War carried the epidemic 
to Chicago. Others were convenient carriers, spreading the 
disease along the Mississippi River, and by mid-September 
it was epidemic in New Orleans. 

The terror of the people was nearly as dreadful as the 
disease itself. And they had reason to be afraid, for the 
disease struck with fearful rapidity. Oftentimes people left 
their homes in the morning apparently in the best of health, 
only to be dead before sundown. From the records of reliable 



58 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

contemporary physicians, we learn that not more than one 
in three cases ever recovered in 1832. In following years, as 
the doctors learned more about it, they were able to save a 
higher percentage of their patients. 

Among the manuscripts of Joel Wakeman is one en- 
titled "The Fearful Scourge of 1832," which began with 
this statement : "No summer in the history of the American 
people has ever equaled 1832 for excitement and general 
prostration of all enterprise." Joel Wakeman lived to "be an 
old man and wrote his account of the plague sometime after 
1890. He knew the dark days of the Civil War from personal 
experience, and yet even such memories could not blot out 
the terror of the summer of 1832. Wakeman wrote further : 

Every newspaper was freighted with the number of the dead and 
dying in the city every breeze that swept by our doors, brought rumors 
(and often greatly exaggerated rumors) of the rapid increase of the 
scourge in the villages and inland towns. . . . The plague was bad; so 
exceedingly bad that the present generation can form no adequate 
conception of its fearful ravages, and prostrating effects upon the 
country. . . . 4 

Business was paralyzed for a time. Merchants were 
afraid to travel to the cities to buy goods. Because of the 
lack of knowledge about disease germs, all kinds of foolish 
superstitions swept the country. Some believed that articles 
of food were responsible for the disease, and for a time 
melons, cucumbers, green corn, and other vegetables were 
rejected, and in some places their sale was forbidden by law. 

People did about all they could do they fled. It was 
noticed that many of the towns in the interior escaped the 
contagion, and to these the refugees went. Some towns of 
five thousand people located in the midst of the epidemic 
lost half their population in a single day because of the 
evacuations. 

The helplessness of the physicians was as great as the 
terror of the people. Marcus Whitman, who had received 
his M.D. degree in January of that year, had received no 
information whatsoever upon the subject of cholera. Ordi- 
nary remedies had no effect. The physicians bled their 
patients, but this only left them less able to combat the 
disease. The doctors then began to make observations. 
Deaths were notably prevalent among the lower strata of 
society, especially among those who lived along the water- 
ways. These people had no sanitary toilet facilities. The 



4 Coll. Wn. contains the original manuscript. 



THREE YEARS AT WHEELER 59 

rivers and canals, from which they got their drinking water, 
were soon polluted, but they did not know it. It was also 
observed that those addicted to intoxicating liquors were 
most subject to the disease. This we now know to be due to 
the fact that the saloons were usually along the water fronts, 
and the customers were provided with drinking water 
dipped up from some convenient river or canal. We can 
marvel that the virulence of the disease was not greater 
than it was. 

The doctors slowly learned some things. They advised 
cleanliness, isolation, and the use of copperas and chloride 
of lime in drains, cesspools, and outbuildings. In Scotland 
the members of the famed medical faculty of the University 
of Edinburgh made some important discoveries which were 
published in pamphlet form. This pamphlet reached the 
United States soon after the disease, and was reprinted in 
many of the newspapers. It was not unusual to see a doctor 
using a country newspaper as the latest authority in treat- 
ing the epidemic. 

In all probability Wheeler was sufficiently distant from 
the Erie Canal to avoid the contagion, and yet it was near 
enough to be troubled with the reports which spread from 
the afflicted areas. We can be assured that Marcus Whitman 
read everything he could find pertaining to the treatment of 
this disease, and it is possible that he was called upon to 
minister to some isolated cases. The epidemic continued in 
this country with lessening fury during the next three years. 
The fact that Dr. Whitman was able to recognize the symp- 
toms of the disease and that he knew something of the best- 
known methods of treatment proved to be of far-reaching 
importance in 1835. 

"ESTEEM [ED] AS A ... CHRISTIAN" 

When Parker wrote to the American Board about Dr. 
Whitman he said that the people of Wheeler highly esteemed 
him both as a physician and as a Christian. As was to be 
expected, Whitman took an active part in the church during 
his residence in Wheeler. The Rev. James H. Hotchkin, pas- 
tor of the Prattsburg church, began religious services in 
Wheeler in 1815. A church was organized in 1824, which 
reported twenty-three members to the Presbytery of Bath 
the following year, but internal dissension developed, which 
gradually stifled the life of the organization. On October 
19, 1831, five men and four women banded themselves to- 



60 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

gether into a new church group. 5 It was called the Wheeler 
Presbyterian Church. 

Detailed information regarding the church is to be 
found in a collection of documents 6 gathered about forty 
years ago by the Rev. S. W. Pratt, D.D., who wrote an in- 
forming article on Marcus Whitman which was published in 
the August, 1909, issue of Sunset. These documents tell the 
story of a small struggling congregation, which by con- 
siderable sacrifice was able to erect a new building 'in the 
spring and summer of 1832. This church was in the process 
of being built when Marcus Whitman arrived in Wheeler. 
The dedication services were held on January 10, 1833. The 
building was used for religious purposes until 1867 and has 
since been torn down. Among the original records of Gen- 
eral 0. F. Marshal, long the main supporter of the church, 
was found the following entry under date of March 11, 1834 : 

Reed fifteen dollars from Doctor Whitman to pay M H Brown for 
ballance due on stove & pipe for Meeting house 7 

Whitman was elected a trustee of the church on Decem- 
ber 29, 1832, and re-elected to the same office at the business 
meeting held a year later. A minute in the records of the 
Auxiliary Bible Society of the County of Steuben for De- 
cember 11, 1833, states that: "Resolved that Doct. Whitman 
be and hereby is appointed agent for the town of Wheeler 
to collect funds for the Society." 8 

In the month of February, 1833, the Rev. James H. 
Hotchkin began his duties as pastor of the Wheeler church. 9 
He was formally installed September 17. It thus fell to Mr. 
Hotchkin's lot to have been the pastor of Narcissa Prentiss, 
who became Mrs. Marcus Whitman, and of Henry H. Spald- 
ing in earlier years at Prattsburg, and then of Marcus Whit- 
man at Wheeler. There can be no doubt that Whitman was 
highly favored in the type of men he had for his pastors. 
Merrill, Hallock, Page, Eastman, Brackett, and Hotchkin 
were all well-trained, consecrated, and devoted men. To this 
list we should add the name of the Rev. Henry P. Strong 



5 Hotchkin, History Western New York, pp. 474-476. 

6 Now in Coll. Wn. 

7 In the possession of General Marshal's grandson, 0. F. Marshal. 

8 Original records owned by James McCall, of Bath, N. Y., by whose 
courtesy this information has been received. 

9 Drury, Spalding, p. 26, gives a picture of Hotchkin and more in- 
formation regarding his life and ministry. 



THREE YEARS AT WHEELER 61 

(1785-1835) , who succeeded Brackett as pastor of the Rush- 
ville church in 1832. 10 It was Mr. Strong who first drew the 
attention of the American Board to Dr. Whitman in a letter 
written April 25, 1834. 

After living at Wheeler for about a year, Whitman trans- 
ferred his church membership from the Rushville church to 
the Wheeler church. He was dismissed from the former on 
February 8, 1833, and joined the latter on Sunday, February 
10. 11 About a year later he was elected to the office of elder, 
and was ordained on Sunday, June 1, 1834. 12 Whitman's 
loyalty and devotion proved of great value to the small 
struggling congregation. He worked in the Sunday school, 
and perhaps it was at this time that he served as Sunday 
school superintendent. [Letter 3.] The fact that the church 
made him both a trustee and an elder is testimony to the 
esteem in which he was held by the members. Minutes of the 
Bath Presbytery show that he attended a meeting of the 
presbytery held at Bath, August 26, 1834, as a delegate from 
Wheeler. 13 

In spite of having such a pastor as James H. Hotchkin, 
and in spite of the loyal and valued services of such laymen 
as Marshal and Whitman, the Wheeler church was never 
large. It reached its peak of membership in 1838, when 
thirty-eight members were reported. It was a mission 
church, for the pastor received aid from the American Home 
.Missionary Society. Hotchkin's quarterly reports to the 
Society are now on file in the Hammond Library, Chicago 
Theological Seminary. One by one the old faithful band 
either died or moved away, until General 0. F. Marshal alone 
remained. His refusal to permit the church to be disbanded 
kept it on the roll of Bath, later known as Steuben, Presby- 
tery until 1894. It was in the Wheeler church, perhaps in 
the new building reported to have been erected in 1870, that 
the Rev. Henry Harmon Spalding preached when he re- 
turned to the scenes of his childhood in the winter of 
1870-71. 14 

The quarterly reports of Hotchkin indicate that the 



10 Received his A.B. from Yale in 1808, and attended Andover Theo. 
Sem., 1808-1810. 

11 The Pratt MS. in Coll. Wn. gives a copy of the church letter from 
Rushville. 

12 Eells, Marcus Whitman, p. 22, states that Whitman was made an 
elder in 1833. Pratt says that this office came to him in 1834. 

13 Miller, Presbyterianism in Steuben and Allegany, p. 7. 

14 See Drury, Spalding, pp. 24 and 394. 



62 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

temperance movement was strong in Wheeler. On April 1, 
1835, Hotchkin stated that there were five different societies 
in the township, with 227 members. In Joel Wakeman's 
reminiscences of Whitman, he gives the following incident 
which shows Whitman's intense interest in this cause : 

He was in the habit of appointing temperance meetings in the school 
districts and of calling on the students of Franklin Academy to assist 
him. One evening he had an appointment in a new settlement where 
they were lumbering. It was a terrific night, the snow was deep and 
still falling and the winds were piling it up in huge drifts. I felt like 
abandoning the enterprise. Not so with Whitman ; his motto was, "If 
we have an appointment it is our duty to fill it." We had out six or 
seven and we delivered our speeches, circulated the pledge, secured 
three or four names and returned home. 15 

Whitman never lost interest in the temperance cause, and 
in later years did what he could to promote temperance in 
Oregon. 

Whitman's medical and religious interests carried him 
beyond the vicinity of Wheeler. He made friends in near-by 
Prattsburg, where he met members of the Prentiss family. 
Judge Stephen Prentiss and his wife Clarissa were active 
workers in the Prattsburg church and also strong advocates 
of temperance. They had a family of nine children four 
boys and five girls. Their third child and eldest daughter 
was Narcissa, and their second daughter was Jane. Since 
the Prentiss family moved to Amity in Allegany County in 
June, 1834, the event below described must, therefore, have 
taken place before that date. 

It seems that Whitman was invited to attend a prayer 
meeting held in the Prentiss home in Prattsburg, which was 
conducted by a Mr. Hamilton. Whitman attended and met 
for the first time some members of the Prentiss family. Jane 
was there, and Whitman was attracted to her. Narcissa was 
then at Butler, 16 Wayne County, nearly one hundred miles to 
the north of Prattsburg where she may have been teaching 
school. In a letter written to Jane on May 17, 1842, Marcus 
refreshed her memory of their first meeting in the following 
words : 

I was just telling Narcissa when an interest I had taken in yourself 
ever since I was introduced to you at your father's house by Mr. 
Hamilton at the close of a prayer meeting. That was the first intro- 



15 Original in Coll. Wn. 

16 The town of Butler was founded in 1826 and was named for 
General William Butler, a Revolutionary officer. The township has no 
railroad through it, and in 1860 had but five hundred people. 



THREE YEARS AT WHEELER 63 

duction to the family. From that moment my heart has been towards 
the family. But you smile, I suppose, and say it was Narcissa ; no, it 
was Jane; Narcissa was in Butler. I presume you will have no recollec- 
tion of the introduction; if so, let it rest on my recollection, which is 
vivid. 

While we have no record that Marcus and Narcissa ever 
met while the Prentiss family lived at Prattsburg, yet in the 
light of later events it appears that they must have then 
become acquainted. Even though Narcissa taught school in 
other places during some of the time that Whitman lived at 
Wheeler, she would have spent her vacations with her par- 
ents. Whitman had many contacts in Prattsburg and was 
sufficiently well acquainted with her pastor, the Rev. George 
Rudd, to request his endorsement upon the application which 
Whitman sent to the American Board in December, 1834. 

"WELL QUALIFIED ... AS A MISSIONARY PHYSICIAN" 

In the spring of 1834, the secretaries of the American 
Board learned for the first time of the young doctor at 
Wheeler,, who was described to them by the Rev. Henry P. 
Strong, of Rushville, as one "well qualified to act as a Mis- 
sionary Physician." The files of the Board contain the 
originals of Whitman's letters and of others interested in his 
appointment. They also contain copies of the replies sent by 
the Board. From such sources we can reconstruct the story 
of what took place. 

On April 25, 1834, Mr. Strong wrote: 

I write at this time to make known to you the request of Doct. 
Marcus Whitman. He is a young man of about 30 or 35 years of age, 
of solid, judicious mind, of, as I hope and believe, more than ordinary 
piety and perseverance, a regular bred Physician, has practiced several 
years with good success and credit. He is, in my opinion well qualified 
to act as a Missionary Physician. Although I know not that he thinks 
of it, yet I think he might, if thought expedient after a time, be 
ordained to advantage. He has formerly been in poor health, but is 
now better, and thinks a station with some of our western Indians 
would be useful to him. He has thought of being a Missionary for some 
time past, and I think him better qualified to do good in that capacity 
than most young men with whom I am acquainted. He would be glad 
to hear from you soon, as, should he go, he would have some worldly 

concerns to arrange. 

Yours Respectfully 

HENRY P. STRONG. 

This letter very clearly indicates that Whitman had 
talked to Mr. Strong of his going as a missionary physician 
and had evidently received encouragement. The two had dis- 



64 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

cussed the advantages of an arid climate for his health. The 
Board was glad to learn of such a person, for the secretaries 
were having a difficult time finding men qualified to go to 
the American Indians. One of the secretaries, the Rev. David 
Greene, wrote September 10, 1834 : "Very few candidates for 
missionary service are willing to go among the Indians." The 
reason was that most candidates preferred to go where a 
language was spoken by tens of millions rather than to a 
small tribe "of sparsely settled migrators." 17 

The Board replied to Mr. Strong through Dr. B. B. 
Wisner on May 1, 1834 : 

Your account of him is so far satisfactory as to induce me to request 
you to suggest to him to address me a letter in which he shall give some 
account of himself; his parentage, education, religious history, views 
and feelings on the missionary subject &c &c. We wish also to be 
informed whether he is married; and if he is, whether he has children, 
and if so, how many; if not married, whether he expects to be. We 
shall be glad to receive such a communication soon. 

Strong then wrote to Whitman, perhaps enclosing the 
Board's letter. Whitman replied from Wheeler on June 3, 
1834. In this letter he reviewed briefly his early life and 
education. He mentioned having studied under the Rev. 
Moses Hallock. It is this part of his letter which is so helpful 
in reconstructing the story of his early life. The latter part 
of the letter is as follows : 

I regard the Missionary cause as based upon the Atonement, and 
the commands and promises of the Lord Jesus Christ to his Ambassa- 
dors and Church ; and that it involve the holiness and happiness of all 
that may be reclaimed from Sin. I regard the Heathen as not having 
retained the knowledge of the true God and as perishing as described 
by St. Paul. I esteem it the duty of every Christian to seek the ad- 
vancement of the cause of Christ more truly than they are wont to their 
own favorit objects. I pray that I may have only such feelings in 
desiring to be received as a helper in the Missionary Cause. I am ready 
to go to any field of usefulness at the direction of the A. Board. I will 
cooperate as Physician, Teacher or Agriculturalist so far as I may be 
able, if required. 

I am not married and I have no present arrangement upon that 
Subject. Yet I think I should wish to take a wife, if the service of 
the Board would admit. 

I am in my thirty second year. My mind has long been turned to the 
missionary subject. For the last Six months I have been more intent 
upon it than before. I wish soon to have definite course. 

Yours in Christian fellowship, 
MARCUS WHITMAN. 

17 Quoted by Hulbert and Hulbert, The Oregon Crusade, p. 207. 
This volume prints in full the early correspondence of Whitman with 
the Board. 



THREE YEARS AT WHEELER 65 

The letter was satisfactory in every respect save one. 
Whitman said nothing about the state of his health. Wisner 
wrote to Strong on June 14, making inquiries about this. 
He also said in part : 

It seems from his letter that his preparatory education is quite 
deficient. What do you think, and what is generally thought by those 
who know him well and are qualified to judge of his talents, and 
mental improvement, and ability to appear respectable among sensible 
and respectable people, and to make a general good impression, to 
require the respect of others, and to get and keep any influence over 
others 

I have asked him what he should think of going to the Washington 
Islands, for which we are now in want of a missionary physician. If 
he goes on a mission, he had better be married & in that case I hope may 
get a good missionary wife. 18 

On the same day Wisner also wrote to Whitman and 
asked for fuller information regarding his health. Wisner 
asked Whitman what he thought about going to the Mar- 
quesas Islands and referred him to the March, 1834, issue of 
the Missionary Herald. Wisner also recommended that if 
Whitman thought of being a missionary he ought to get "a 
good missionary wife." 

Whitman replied on June 27, saying : "I have one of the 
best constitutions and have enjoyed almost uninterrupted 
health untill within three or four years." He then told of 
the pain he had had in his left side in 1830 which had caused 
him to give up his plan to study for the ministry. After 
using remedies and following a plan of exercises, he had 
resumed his study of medicine. Whitman wrote: 

I have not used remidies but in some few instances since and except 
for the last two or three weeks I have had but trifling inconvenience and 
nothing of organic or functional deranges. I have not been for any 
length of time without a slight pain and for the last two or three 
weeks there has been an agravation of pain and soreness so that I 
have used remidies and shall have to use more skill. I have thought 
for the last year or more that my -health was nearly restored and I am 
in hopes that I shall still find my expectation realized in this respect. 
[Letter 4.] 

He stated further that he felt his health would not be a 
handicap for work in a temperate climate. He objected to 
the Marquesan mission because of the climate. The mission 



18 Strong, The Story of the American Board, p. 68 : "A new mission 
to the Washington or Marquesas Islands was therefore undertaken in 
1833." These islands are in the South Pacific and were taken over by 
Prance in 1842. 



66 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

in those islands proved to be of short duration because of the 
bloodthirsty cannibals. 

Whitman gave the names of several people at the close 
of this, his second letter to the Board, to whom the Board 
could write for further information. This list included the 
following : Erastus Bates, Whitman's first cousin, the son of 
Abner and Mehitabel Bates, who had served in the Massa- 
chusetts Legislature during the years 1822-34; the Rev. 
Moses Hallock ; the Rev. J. H. Hotchkin ; Elisha Loomis ; and 
the Rev. Chauncey Eddy, agent of the Board for western 
New York State. The mention of Elisha Loomis is rather 
significant, for it shows that Whitman had talked with 
Loomis, a returned missionary, on this subject. 

In this letter we also read : "I have some lands in posses- 
sion which I should wish to sell & considerable business to 
settle if the Board should approve of me. 19 All efforts to 
locate any land in Whitman's name have so far proved fruit- 
less. An examination of land records in the county seats of 
Steuben, Allegany, Ontario, and Yates Counties has been 
made, together with a search of records in Canada. Of 
course Whitman may have owned land in some other county, 
or possibly have had a share in some property recorded in 
the name of another. 

Pratt wrote : 

About this time Whitman bought a farm of 150 acres of the 
Pulteney Estate, lying about midway between Wheeler and Prattsburg, 
and now owned by Julius Stickney, on this he built a log house where 
he dwelt for a time, which is yet standing, and planned also to build a 
saw mill. This he sold later to Grattan H. Wheeler. 20 

A call was made on Mrs. W. C. Lewis, a daughter of 
Julius Stickney mentioned by Pratt, who also stated that her 
father had purchased the farm from Grattan H. Wheeler. 
She remembered the log house and claimed that it stood 
back from the highway and on the bank of Five-Mile Creek. 
It fell into ruin about twenty-five years ago. Mrs. Lewis had 
no memory of Marcus Whitman's ever living there. 21 If 
Pratt's account is correct, then it seems evident that Whit- 
man had an equity in this property and that Grattan H. 
Wheeler took over those interests. Frequently no legal 
record was made until certain financial conditions had been 



19 Gray, Oregon, p. 317, states that Whitman disposed of some prop- 
erty in 1843. 

20 Pratt MS., p. 5, Coll. Wn. 

21 Information by courtesy of James McCall, of Bath. 



THREE YEARS AT WHEELER 67 

fulfilled. The failure to find a record may be due to the fact 
that Whitman had but partially fulfilled those requirements. 

Strong delayed in answering Wisner's letter until 
August 12. Wisner, on the basis of Whitman's letter of 
June 27, wrote, advising Whitman to give up the idea. In 
this letter, dated July 17, we read : "On the whole, I feel 
constrained to conclude that duty to the cause requires me 
to advise you to give up, or at least to defer, till it shall be 
certain that your health is restored and established, the plan 
of going on a foreign mission." 

Strong's letter of August 12 did not change matters. 
Strong explained that he had delayed writing because he 
wanted to see some people who were better acquaintd with 
Whitman than he was. Having secured the necessary in- 
formation, he wrote : 

I find that his talents are above mediocrity, his mental improvement 
respectable li. e. commendable], in his profession above ordinary 
Physicians; in appearance, among respectable people, rather for- 
bidding at first, but makes a good impression soon and is respected. Is 
pretty well calculated to acquire & retain influence, will be a pleasant 
mission companion, cooperate well with others. Upon the whole, his 
acquaintance with the world is respectable & his friends think he will 
do well as a missionary. 

This is a good letter and gives a splendid analysis of 
Whitman. However, nothing more was done in Whitman's 
case for the time being. As far as the Board was concerned, 
Whitman's ill-health made it inadvisable for him to be 
appointed. So the matter rested. 

SAMUEL PARKER 

During 1834 important events were taking place else- 
where which, toward the end of that year, injected their 
influence into the life of Marcus Whitman and suddenly 
wrenched him out of the peaceful and quiet surroundings of 
Wheeler and sent him on an adventuresome tour of explora- 
tion to the Rocky Mountains. 

In the winter of 1831-32 four Indians from beyond the 
Rockies had made the long trip to St. Louis in search of the 
white man's religion. The story of that trip was made known 
in the March 1, 1833, issue of the New York Christian Advo- 
cate. Among the first to volunteer to go as a missionary was 
the Rev. Samuel Parker, of Middlefield, Massachusetts. 
Various circumstances prevented Parker's going in 1833, but 
in 1834 he made the trip to St. Louis with two associates, ex- 1 



68 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

pecting to cross the plains with the caravan. However, for 
lack of information, they reached St. Louis six weeks too late. 
Leaving his associates to work among the Pawnees, Parker 
turned back to look for more workers. He planned to make 
another effort in 1835. 

With the knowledge and consent of the American Board, 
Parker spent the fall and early winter of 1834-35 in western 
New York, holding missionary meetings. He wanted more 
men and money. Thus it happened that Parker visited 
Wheeler in the latter part of November, 1834, where he 
found Marcus Whitman. Parker learned that Whitman had 
volunteered to go to the American Indians as a medical mis- 
sionary, but had been rejected because of ill-health. Being 
assured that Whitman was then in fine physical condition, 
Parker advised him to try again, and promised to write in 
his behalf. 

Parker wrote to his family on December 5 and mentioned 
his good fortune in finding Dr. Whitman. On December 17, 
he wrote to the Board from Dansville, New York, stating : 
"Doct Marcus Whitman of Wheeler, Steuben County, N. Y. 
whom I saw a few weeks since made up his mind to offer him- 
self. . . . He has the name of being a good physician and a 
devoted Christian. I think there can be no doubt in his case." 

On the 25th, Parker was back at his home in Ithaca and 
on that day wrote again to the Board concerning Dr. Whit- 
man. He said in part : 

I wrote you in regard to Doct. Marcus Whitman whatever may be 
the fulness, or want of fulness, in the testimonials which may accom- 
pany his offer of himself to your Board, his general reputation in re- 
gard to all the particulars required and into which I have made par- 
ticular inquiry, I think place his case heyond any particular doubt. He 
wishes to accompany me in my expected tour. 

WHITMAN IS APPOINTED 

On November 27, 1834, the Rev. James H. Hotchkin sent 
to the Board his letter of recommendation for Dr. Whitman. 
It is possible that this date indicates Parker's visit to 
Wheeler. Parker had encouraged Whitman to try again. 
Whitman, no doubt, went to his pastor, and Hotchkin in 
turn wrote the following letter to the Board : 

Whereas Doct. Whitman has declared his intention to offer himself 
to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, to be 
employed as an Assistant Missionary to the Indian tribes beyond the 
Mississippi river, and has requested of me a testimonial of his character 
and standing in the church, I hereby certify that I have been intimately 



THREE YEARS AT WHEELER 69 

acquainted with him, for about two years past, during the time that I 
have sustained the office of Pastor of the Presbyterian church of 
Wheeler (N. Y.) and that he is a member in good standing, and a 
Ruling Elder in said church, highly esteemed as a Christian of hopeful 
piety and possessing in a good degree the spirit of active benevolence. 
In his medical profession he has deservedly been held in estimation 
and has had a good share of practice. I consider him as possessing in a 
good degree missionary qualifications and have no doubt that he will 
be esteemed by those who may be associated with him in missionary 
employment. 

Whitman's offer to go as "an Assistant Missionary to the 
tribes beyond the Mississippi river" seems to be a clear indi- 
cation that he had talked with Parker. This letter of Hotch- 
kin's was endorsed by Marshal, Stryker, and Aulls, elders 
in the Wheeler church. 22 The letter was then sent to Pratts- 
burg, where on Saturday, November 29, the Rev. George R. 
Rudd, pastor of the Prattsburg church, signed a short state- 
ment in which he said he concurred in the above testimonial. 

In all probability Whitman himself carried the letter to 
Prattsburg, and then continued his journey to Rushville. 
He wanted to talk matters over with his mother and other 
relatives. He also wished counsel with Mr. Strong. On Mon- 
day, December 1, Strong wrote to the American Board, 
saying : 

Doct. M. Whitman informs me that he still entertains the expecta- 
tion of going on a mission. I have simply to say, as before, that the 
most judicious friends of Missions think him well qualified for the 
undertaking. His professional skill is good, his piety consistent and 
persevering, and his talents and acquirements quite respectable. Should 
he be sent, I may say that it will be thought, where he is known, a 
judicious appointment. 

On the back of Strong's letter Whitman wrote on 
December 2 : 

I have had an interview with the Rev. Samuel Parker upon the 
subject of Missions, and have determined to off er myself to the A. M. 
Board to accompany him on his mission or beyond the Rocky Moun- 
tains. My health is so much restored that I think it will offer no 
impediment. I find no sensible inconvenience from my former diffi- 
cultys, and think I shall not from the climate and labours of such a 
Mission. 

In accordance with Mr. Parker's direction I send some testimonies. 
I think I have deliberately and prayerfully considered the subject and 
shall acquiesce in the decision of the Board. 

This letter, with the testimonials, was mailed from Rush- 



22 In this letter Strong requested that the Missionary Herald be sent 
to Augustus Whitman, Oren Green, and others "who pay more than $10 
a year." This indicates that Whitman's brother and cousin had a real 
interest in missions. 



70 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

ville on December 2. It was received in Boston on December 
9. The various recommendations, together with the assur- 
ance that Whitman's physical condition was no longer a 
difficulty, cleared the way for his appointment. The Board 
met on January 6, 1835, at which time Dr. Whitman was 
appointed a missionary physician, with the view that he 
should accompany Mr. Parker on his trip to the Rockies that 
summer. Mr. Greene wrote to Whitman the next day, in- 
forming him of the action taken and giving him some good 
advice : 

On such a tour as this, as well as in missionary labors among any of 
the wandering tribes of our continent, great patience, fortitude & 
perseverance are necessary. You must be willing to encounter hardship, 
dangers, self-denials in almost every shape & discouragements without 
being moved by them from your purpose. Nothing but an unquenchable 
desire to do good to the souls of the Indians, originating in and 
cherished by a supreme love to Christ and firm faith in the promises, 
can sustain you and carry you through. 

Whitman was advised to get in touch with Mr. Parker, 
who would give him detailed information regarding the trip. 
He made immediate preparations to visit Ithaca. By the 
2nd of February, he was back in Wheeler. On that date he 
wrote the following letter to Greene : 

I received yours containing a notice of my appointment with which 
I shall cheerfully comply. I visited Mr. Parker and made such arrange- 
ments as we thought necessary. He had left the instruction of last year 
with Mr. Dunbar. I was somewhat disappointed that we were not 
likely to have a sufficient number of associates to make an establish- 
ment. I shall acquiese however in whatever the committee thinks most 
advisable. I wish to be informed as fully as possible of the intention 
of the committee as to the extent and design of our commission. I design 
to start by the 16th instant, if I obtain your answer in time so that I 
shall have an opportunity of visiting some friends in Ohio and Illinois. 
My health is generally good. I design to travel to St. Louis on horse- 
back and leave my baggage with Mr. Parker. 

Yours affectionately 
P.S. Direct to Rushville, N. Y. MARCUS WHITMAN 

Whitman made haste to settle his affairs at Wheeler. In 
the archives of Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington, 
are two documents of peculiar interest, each of them dated 
February 5, 1835. One is a receipt given by Dr. Whitman 
to E. S. Taylor. It reads: 

Received of E. S. Taylor eleven dollars in full of all account 

_ , _ , , MARCUS WHITMAN 

Wheeler, February 5th, 183523 



23 This receipt was sent to Whitman College, October 21, 1929, by 



THREE YEARS AT WHEELER 71 

The second document is Whitman's church letter signed 
by the Rev. James H. Hotchkin. It reads as follows : 

This certifies that the bearer, Marcus Whitman, M.D. is a member in 
good standing and a Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church of 
Wheeler, N. Y. and as he has lately received an appointment from the 
American Board of Commissioners for foreign missions to go on a 
mission to the aborigines of this country, he is hereby on his request 
[dismissed] from his particular relation to the church of Wheeler, and 
affectionately recommended to the Christian regard of any of God's 
people wherever he may travel and to the fellowship and communion of 
any particular church wherever God in his providence may cast his lot. 

Greene wrote to Whitman on February 9, 1835, and re- 
ported the death that day of Dr. Wisner. Because of the 
pressure of business, he wrote briefly, and again referred 
Whitman to the instructions sent to Parker the previous 
year. "The objects of the Com." he wrote, "is to learn as 
fully as possible the condition & character of the remote & 
secluded tribes, that they may more effectually call upon the 
Christian church to furnish them the men & the means in 
other respects for giving them the gospel." Greene promised 
to send Whitman's commission to him at St. Louis. 

Upon the receipt of this letter on February 19, Whitman 
mounted his horse and started westward. He spent several 
days at Amity, New York, including Sunday, February 22, 
and when he left he had the consent of Narcissa Prentiss to 
become his wife. His cup of happiness was running over. He 
was an appointed missionary of the American Board. Ad- 
venture, travel, service, the lure of the unknown, lay before 
him and beckoned him on ! All this was in the service of the 
Church and for the Christ whom he served. And at the same 
time he craved the companionship of the one he loved, who 
in turn loved him. Fortunate man to have won the heart 
and hand of Narcissa Prentiss ! Conflicting emotions strug- 
gled for supremacy in his heart. Duty commanded him to 
go ; love bade him to stay. 

Marcus was not one to allow sentiment to rule over 
duty. With a glad, but heavy heart, he mounted his horse 
again and began his nine-hundred-mile ride to St. Louis. 



George W. Howe, of Elmira, N. Y. It was given to him by J. Emmet 
Taylor, of Dundee, N. Y., who at that time was eighty years old. Mr. 
Taylor said: "When ten years old I distinctly recollect Dr. Marcus 
Whitman doctoring me for scarlet fever." J. Emmet Taylor was a son 
of E. S. Taylor. 



CHAPTER FOUR 

NARCISSA PRENTISS 
1808-1835 

XTARCISSA PRENTISS, who became Mrs. Marcus Whit- 
1-N man, is one of the best-known and best-loved characters 
in the history of the Pacific Northwest. This popularity is 
based in part upon the fact that nearly one hundred of her 
letters and her diary have been published in whole or in 
part. 1 Most of these appeared in the 1891 and 1893 issues 
of the Transactions of the Oregon Pioneer Association. 
These letters, which were never written for publication, are 
like windows which give us intimate glimpses not only into 
the home life of Narcissa, but also into her heart and mind. 
From them we know what she did, how she felt, and even 
what she thought. 

We have also frequent references to her in the letters 
and diaries of others who knew her. The combined evidence 
presents for us a beautiful character. She was refreshingly 
wholesome and human. Like most human beings, she had 
her faults, but even these faults throw into bold relief her 
admirable characteristics. 

ANCESTRY AND BIRTH 

Narcissa was the eldest daughter and third child of 
Stephen and Clarissa Prentiss, who settled in Prattsburg, 
Steuben County, New York, about 1805. Her descent can 
be traced to Henry Prentice, 2 who came from England and 
settled at Cambridge, Massachusetts, prior to 1640. The 
line of descent from Henry, through two Solomons and 
three Stephens, is as follows : 

Solomon (1646-1719) 

Solomon (1673-1758) 

Stephen (1720- ) 

Stephen (1744- ) 



1 Appendix 1 gives a list of her letters, together with those of her 
husband. 

2 W.C.Q., Vol. 1, p. 24, has an article on the Prentiss family by the 
Rev. Levi Fay Waldo, once a resident of Prattsburg. He states that old 
English records show that the family name was once spelt Prentiz. 
This might be a derivative of "apprentice." 




THE PRESBYTERIAN MANSE AT PRATTSBURG. 
Built in 1832 by Stephen Prentiss. 

By courtesy of Dr. Limouzc. 



CHAPTER FOUR 

NARCISSA PRENTISS 
1808-1835 

\TARCISSA PRENTISS, who became Mrs. Marcus Whit- 
A-^l man, is one of the best-known and best-loved characters 
in the history of the Pacific Northwest. This popularity is 
based in part upon the fact that nearly one hundred of her 
letters and her diary have been published in whole or in 
part. 1 Most of these appeared in the 1891 and 1893 issues 
of the Transactions of the Oregon Pioneer Association. 
These letters, which were never written for publication, are 
like windows which give us intimate glimpses not only into 
the home life of Narcissa, but also into her heart and mind. 
From them we know what she did, how she felt, and even 
what she thought. 

We have also frequent references to her in the letters 
and diaries of others who knew her. The combined evidence 
presents for us a beautiful character. She was refreshingly 
wholesome and human. Like most human beings, she had 
her faults, but even these faults throw into bold relief her 
admirable characteristics. 

ANCESTRY AND BIRTH 

Narcissa was the eldest daughter and third child of 
Stephen and Clarissa Prentiss, who settled in Prattsburg, 
Steuben County, New York, about 1805. Her descent can 
be traced to Henry Prentice, 2 who came from England and 
settled at Cambridge, Massachusetts, prior to 1640. The 
line of descent from Henry, through two Solomons and 
three Stephens, is as follows : 

Solomon (1646-1719) 

Solomon (1673-1758) 

Stephen (1720- ) 

Stephen (1744- ) 



1 Appendix 1 gives a list of her letters, together with those of her 
husband. 

2 W.C.Q., Vol. 1, p. 24, has an article on the Prentiss family by the 
Rev. Levi Fay Waldo, once a resident of Prattsburg. He states that old 
English records show that the family name was once spelt Prentiz. 
This might be a derivative of "apprentice," 




THE PRESBYTERIAN MANSE AT PRATTSBURG. 
Built in 1832 by Stephen Prentiss. 

By courtesy of Dr. Limouzc. 



NARCISSA PRENTISS 73 

Stephen, the third son of the last-named Stephen, was 
born at Walpole, Massachusetts, October 26, 1777. 3 When 
he came of age he migrated to Onondaga County in western 
New York, where he married Clarissa Ward on January 3, 
1803. It was this Stephen Prentiss who changed the spelling 
of the family name from Prentice to Prentiss, although it 
appears that the change was also made in other branches 
of the family. Their first-born was a boy whom they called 
Stephen Turner. 

About 1805 the Prentiss family settled in Prattsburg, a 
village named after the Pratt family, who were the first 
owners of the land and among the first settlers. Captain 
Joel Pratt 4 secured title to the whole township in which the 
village of Prattsburg is located, and in order to obtain set- 
tlers granted favorable terms to desirable people. The fact 
that Stephen and Clarissa named their second born Harvey 
Pratt is indicative of the respect they had for the Captain. 

Stephen Prentiss and his family were among the earliest 
settlers in the whole county. The most primitive conditions 
surrounded them. Roads were almost nonexistent. There 
were no schools or churches. People were scattered on small 
clearings, from which they endeavored to make a living. 
For a time Stephen farmed on West Hill near Prattsburg, but 
it appears that very soon after his arrival he was operating 
a sawmill and flour mill on the banks of the little stream 
which flows through Prattsburg. 5 He was a carpenter and 
joiner and, no doubt, used the products of his sawmill to 
provide homes for the rapidly growing community. 

About the time Stephen took over the mills, he moved 
his family into a frame house which measured about twenty- 
two by thirty-two feet. The house, which is still standing, is 
a story and a half high, thus providing rooms upstairs with 
windows at the gable ends. Stephen Prentiss located his 
home about half a mile southeast of the public square and 
near the stream which furnished the power for the mills. 

If local tradition is correct, it was there in that unpre- 
tentious pioneer home that Narcissa was born on Monday, 



3 Binney, Genealogy of the Prentice or Prentiss Family, p. 75, 
states that Stephen was born at Walpole, N. H. While members of the 
Prentiss family did live there, from other evidence, it is apparent that 
Binney was mistaken. Stephen was born at Walpole, Mass., which is 
about twenty miles southwest of Cambridge. 

4 Jared, a brother of Joel Pratt, was an ancestor of the Mormon 
Apostles, Orson Pratt and Parley P. Pratt. 

5 W.C.Q., Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 25. 




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NARCISSA PRENTISS 73 

Stephen, the third son of the last-named Stephen, was 
born at Walpole, Massachusetts, October 26, 1777. 3 When 
he came of age he migrated to Onondaga County in western 
New York, where he married Clarissa Ward on January 3, 
1803. It was this Stephen Prentiss who changed the spelling 
of the family name from Prentice to Prentiss, although it 
appears that the change was also made in other branches 
of the family. Their first-born was a boy whom they called 
Stephen Turner. 

About 1805 the Prentiss family settled in Prattsburg, a 
village named after the Pratt family, who were the first 
owners of the land and among the first settlers. Captain 
Joel Pratt 4 secured title to the whole township in which the 
village of Prattsburg is located, and in order to obtain set- 
tlers granted favorable terms to desirable people. The fact 
that Stephen and Clarissa named their second born Harvey 
Pratt is indicative of the respect they had for the Captain. 

Stephen Prentiss and his family were among the earliest 
settlers in the whole county. The most primitive conditions 
surrounded them. Roads were almost nonexistent. There 
were no schools or churches. People were scattered on small 
clearings, from which they endeavored to make a living. 
For a time Stephen farmed on West Hill near Prattsburg, but 
it appears that very soon after his arrival he was operating 
a sawmill and flour mill on the banks of the little stream 
which flows through Prattsburg. 5 He was a carpenter and 
joiner and, no doubt, used the products of his sawmill to 
provide homes for the rapidly growing community. 

About the time Stephen took over the mills, he moved 
his family into a frame house which measured about twenty- 
two by thirty-two feet. The house, which is still standing, is 
a story and a half high, thus providing rooms upstairs with 
windows at the gable ends. Stephen Prentiss located his 
home about half a mile southeast of the public square and 
near the stream which furnished the power for the mills. 

If local tradition is correct, it was there in that unpre- 
tentious pioneer home that Narcissa was born on Monday, 



3 Binney, Genealogy of the Prentice or Prentiss Family, p. 75, 
states that Stephen was born at Walpole, N. H. While members of the 
Prentiss family did live there, from other evidence, it is apparent that 
Binney was mistaken. Stephen was born at Walpole, Mass., which is 
about twenty miles southwest of Cambridge. 

4 Jared, a brother of Joel Pratt, was an ancestor of the Mormon 
Apostles, Orson Pratt and Parley P. Pratt. 

5 W.C.Q., Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 25. 



74 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

March 14, 1808. Narcissa is such an uncommon name that 
we wonder why it was selected. 

Six more children were born to Stephen and Clarissa 
Prentiss while they lived in Prattsburg. They were Jonas 
Galusha, Jane Abigail, Mary Ann, Clarissa, Harriet Rebecca, 
and Edward Ward. 6 Thus we find nine children in the 
Prentiss family, four boys and five girls. Narcissa, being 
the eldest of the girls, was undoubtedly a valued helper in 
the home as soon as she was able to assume responsibility. 

NARCISSA'S PARENTS 

Joel Wakeman has left for us the following description 
of Stephen Prentiss : 

In the early spring of 1832 I became a resident of Prattsburg. I 
very soon made the acquaintance of Judge Stephen Prentiss, the father 
of Narcissa, who was then engaged in erecting the Presbyterian par- 
sonage. . . . He was an architect, a master builder, and followed that 
occupation as he had calls. . . . He was quite tall, finely proportioned, a 
little inclined to corpulency, a well formed head, ruddy countenance 

and a sharp, penetrating eye He was remarkably reticent for a 

man of his intelligence and standing. It was not common for him to 
commence conversation, but free to communicate when others led off, 
and it was a rare thing for him to indulge in laughter.? 

The interest aroused in Prattsburg and community when 
the centennial celebrations were held on June 4, 1936, 
brought to light many interesting documents, including the 
original contract for the building of the Presbyterian par- 
sonage by Stephen Prentiss. The contract is dated May 15, 
1832. The cost of the building was to be $835, which included 
both materials and labor. 8 The fact that the house is still in 
use and is in good repair is evidence of the fine workmanship 
with which it was constructed. There are other buildings in 
Prattsburg still standing which were also built by Stephen 
Prentiss. 

An examination of the courthouse records at Bath shows 
that Stephen Prentiss .bought eleven acres of land in 1810 
for which he paid two hundred dollars, and a year later he 
bought ten acres for which he paid one hundred dollars. The 
land was located in or near the village. He served at least 
one term as County Supervisor, being elected in 1824. He 



6 Binney, History and Genealogy of the Prentice or Prentiss 
Family. 

t Prattsburg News, Jan. 20, 1898. Original MS., Coll. Wn. 

8 The Rev. Marshal Scott, of Prattsburg, has charge of the document. 



NARCISSA PRENTISS 75 

was made an Associate Judge for the County, thus winning 
for himself the title of Judge by which he was thereafter 
known. Narcissa was proud of this title, and when she 
addressed letters to her father, she usually included the 
title : "Hon. Stephen Prentiss." 

Several years ago a local historian found some old court 
records from which he secured his information for the 
following story : 

A disgraceful and cowardly act had been perpetrated by one of our 
citizens for which he had been arraigned before Esq. Prentiss and 
confronted by Judge Porter. The nature of the crime charged was such 
that in legal strictness, a justice's jurisdiction of it could only consist 
of an investigation, and commitment upon sufficient proof of guilt; but 
Esq. Prentiss doubtless from mistaken views concerning the extent of 
his authority, proceeded to try the issue and deeming the proof suffi- 
cient to pronounce judgment, was as follows: "To bind the culprit to 
Bidwell's signpost and there score his bare back with forty lashes!" 
Thus was justice satisfied, so were the population. 9 

The Judge's interests appeared to have been many and 
varied. According to one report he operated a distillery along 
with his mills. The Rev. Levi Fay Waldo, a descendant of 
an old Prattsburg family and a relative of Narcissa, wrote : 

From my earliest recollection he was always known as Judge 
Prentiss, having served one term as County or Probate Judge. He 
carried on his business about one-half mile southeast of the public 
square, where he had a saw-mill, a gristmill and a distillery (!) My 
mother was for years a domestic in her uncle's family, and my uncle, 
Prentiss Fay, a most excellent Christian man, worked for his uncle 
in the distillery, where I am told they kept the Bible depository and held 
mid-week prayer meetings. 10 

In 1825 or 1826 a temperance lecturer arrived in Pratts- 
burg. Prentiss attended the lecture, as probably did most 
of the citizens of the village, and according to Wakeman, 
left the building "very angry feeling he had been personally 
abused and insulted." Wakeman further states that Stephen 
Prentiss finally gave up the business because he was fearful 
of the effects of the trade upon his sons. "If I remember 
correctly," wrote Wakeman, "the good old parson embraced 
the reform at that time, and also the merchant that presented 
him occasionally with five gallons of rum." 11 



9 Prattsburg News, Oct. 1, 1924. By courtesy of Miss Charlotte 
Howe, of Prattsburg. 

10 W.C.Q., Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 26. 

11 Wakeman MS., No. 25, Coll. Wn. 



76 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Joel Wakeman gives the following description 12 of Nar- 
cissa's mother : 

Mrs. Clarissa Prentiss, the wife and mother, was quite tall and 
fleshy, and queenly in her deportment. She was intelligent, gifted in 
conversation, and possessed great weight of Christian character. Her 
influence was potent in her family and the community. She was re- 
markably sedate, never excited, always master of the occasion what- 
ever occurred. She also, like unto her husband, seldom laughed. As 
familiar as I was in the family I do not remember of ever seeing her 
Iaugh.i3 

Absence of laughter was then a sign of piety. Laughter 
was considered ungodly, especially on Sunday. This attitude 
was a part of the Puritan inheritance, and Wakeman felt 
that the lack of humor was a serious defect characteristic of 
many of the older citizens of Prattsburg. In many respects 
Narcissa resembled her mother more than she did her father. 
She too was "queenly in her deportment" and "gifted in con- 
versation/' but in one respect at least she differed Narcissa 
had a sense of humor. 

Mrs. Prentiss took the lead in religious matters, for she 
joined the Prattsburg church in 1807, while her husband did 
not. join until 1817. 14 Waldo wrote of their interest in music : 

Judge Prentiss and all his family were all singers. My earliest 
recollections of him are as choir leader, setting the tone with an old- 
fashioned pitch pipe, and now and then giving it a toot between the 
stanzas to make sure that they were keeping up to the pitch. 

Yet the minutes of the Prattsburg church show that 
Judge Prentiss was not always directing the choir for the 
Sunday services. According to an item in the minutes of the 
church dated April 14, 1829, Judge Prentiss was asked to 
explain why he had absented himself from the Presbyterian 
church to worship with the Methodists. The record declares : 
"His reasons were. He was best edified in attending with 
the Methodists, and was not wholly pleased with the ad- 
ministrations in this church, particularly with respect of 
discipline." 15 

On May 5 of that year Judge Prentiss joined the Metho- 
dist Church, but two years later, or on January 19, 1831, he 
returned to the Presbyterians after acknowledging his 
"fault." If one may be allowed to read between the lines, 



12 See also Wakeman MS., No. 34, Coll. Wn. 

13 Prattsburg News, Jan. 20, 1898. 

14 Original records still extant at Prattsburg. 

!5 Minutes of the Prattsburg church, Vol. 2, p. 144. 



NARCISSA PRENTISS 77 

he may see in the reference to the "discipline" of the Pratts- 
burg church an allusion to the action taken by the Bath Pres- 
bytery, of which the Prattsburg church was a member, on 
August 28, 1828, in regard to Freemasonry. The presbytery, 
affected by the anti-Masonic agitation of the time, viewed 
Freemasonry as "hostile to the interests of the Church of 
Christ" and called upon all members of Presbyterian 
churches within its jurisdiction to "abandon the institu- 
tion." 16 

While we lack confirming evidence, it may be that Judge 
Prentiss was a Mason and left the Presbyterian Church be- 
cause he objected to the action taken by the presbytery. The 
Methodists were more lenient in this respect and permitted 
their members to be Masons. Thus for a time the Prentiss 
family was divided in its church allegiance. It appears that 
the original Masonic lodge in Prattsburg was not able to 
weather the storm. It disbanded and years passed before 
another lodge was organized. 17 

We have every reason to believe that Narcissa was highly 
favored in her parents and in her home life. Years later from 
distant Oregon she wrote in affectionate terms of the beau- 
tiful fellowship of the home she had left behind. In one letter 
she speaks of reading to her mother, and asked her sister 
Harriet : 

What books do you read? Do you comfort ma by reading to her such 
books as Dwight's Theology, Dodridge's Rise and Progress, Milner's 
Church History, etc., as Narcissa used to do in her younger days? 
[Letter 81.1 

Rather heavy reading for leisure hours ! But those were 
serious-minded days. Regardless of the type of books read, 
we have a pleasing picture here of Narcissa reading to her 
mother. 

NARCISSA'S SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES 

The very first entry in the record of baptisms of the 
Prattsburg church is the following : 

Lords Day July 17th 1808 Baptised by Rev. Solomon Allen Willis 
Gilbert Hayes, son of Simeon Hayes Grove More Bacon son of Samuel 
Bacon Narcissa Prentiss, daughter of Stephen Prentiss 

The Rev. Solomon Allen had been sent by the Ontario 



16 Miller, Presbyterianism in Steuben, p. 9. 

17 The Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of New York wrote to 
the author August 24, 1935, stating that the Grand Lodge had no 
records of Stephen Prentiss' being a Mason. However, the records for 
the early years are incomplete. 



78 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Association to act at the installation of the Rev. John Niles 
in the Bath church. Eight days after Mr. Niles had been 
installed, Mr. Allen performed the above-recorded baptisms 
in Prattsburg. 18 Narcissa was then a little over four months 
old and she had the distinction of being the first girl baby 
to be baptized in Prattsburg. Here is additional evidence 
regarding the early date of the settlement of the Prentiss 
family in that community. 

The pastor of the Prattsburg church during most of the 
time that Narcissa lived there was the Rev. James H. Hotch- 
kin, who remained in Prattsburg from 1809 to 1830. The 
church building in which Narcissa was probably baptized 
was a wooden building about the same size as her home, 
twenty-two by thirty-two feet. In 1809, this building was 
enlarged by an eighteen-foot addition at one end. This long 
rectangular structure, with the pulpit "stuck to the northern 
wall like a bird's nest," was the first church building that 
Narcissa remembered. 19 

In Mr. Hotchkin's old age, he wrote a book entitled: A 
History of the Purchase and Settlement of Western New 
York and of the Rise, Progress, and present state of the 
Presbyterian Church in that section. The book was published 
in 1848. In this work he tells of the religious revival which 
visited his church in Prattsburg during the winter of 1818- 
19 and which reached a climax in February, 1819. Mr. 
Hotchkin wrote: 

February. The first Sabbath in that month was a day of unusual 
solemnity. At an appointed weekly meeting the house of worship was 
filled to overflowing, and from the necessity of the case, and the 
powerful state of feeling existing, it became necessary to continue the 
meeting from day to day for several days in succession. Individuals 
were seen trembling on their seats, and the silent tear trickling down 
their cheeks, but entire stillness reigned. Nothing was heard but the 
voice of the speaker imparting instructions, addressing exhortation to 
the assembly, or lifting up the prayer unto God. More than thirty, it is 
believed, were born again during that eventful week. 20 

Hotchkin then continues his account by telling us how all 
of the new members won in this revival were received into 
the church on "the first Sunday of June following," which 
fell that year on June 6. On that day "fifty-nine individuals 
stood before a great congregation" and made their public 



18 Information secured from Miss Sarah Parker, of Bath, N. Y. 

19 Drury, Spalding, pp. 277 ff., gives a more detailed description of 
the church. 

20 P. 465. 



NARCISSA PRENTISS 79 

confession of faith. People from the neighboring towns came 
for the big occasion. Knowing that the church was too small 
to hold the anticipated crowd, preparations were made in 
advance to hold the services in a neighboring grove. The day 
was a perfect June day with a clear sky and no wind. Mr. 
Hotchkin took for his text the words found in Isaiah 53 :11 : 
"He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied." 
The text reveals the joy that Mr. Hotchkin felt upon that 
auspicious occasion. 

Among the new members welcomed that day was golden- 
haired Narcissa Prentiss, who was then but eleven years 
old. Her two older brothers, Stephen and Harvey, were with 
her. By an interesting coincidence, a revival was held about 
the same time in Plainfield, Massachusetts, where Marcus 
Whitman experienced a spiritual awakening. 

About five years later, when Narcissa was in her six- 
teenth year, she had another religious experience, which 
caused her to consecrate herself to the missionary cause. Of 
this she wrote in her first letter to the Board as follows : 

I frequently desired to go to the heathen but only half-heartedly and 
it was not till the first Monday of Jan. 1824 that I felt to consecrate 
myself without reserve to the Missionary work awaiting the leadings of 
Providence concerning me. [Letter 7.] 

Narcissa must have had a very impressive experience, 
since it caused her eleven years later to remember that it 
occurred "on the first Monday of Jan. 1824." According to 
one report, Narcissa read the life of Harriette Boardman, a 
missionary to India, and was much influenced by it. 21 

Waldo in his reminiscences published in the Whitman 
College Quarterly wrote as follows concerning Narcissa : 

She seems to have been peculiarly gifted in speech, and especially in 
prayer and song. I well remember her clear sweet voice, as a leading 
soprano, in the old church at home. And one who afterwards used to 
hear her pray, testifieds : "She could offer up the finest petition to the 
Throne of Grace of any person I have ever heard in my life." 22 

Several have written about Narcissa's beautiful voice. 
The Rev. Joel Wakeman wrote : 

Her voice was an important factor in the social prayer meetings and 
missionary concerts that were held monthly in those days. 23 

21 Douthit, Souvenir of Western Women, article by Catherine Sager 
Pringle. 

t 22 W.C.Q., Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 38. Waldo was then a Congregational 
minister at Canon City, Colo. 

23 Prattsburg News, Aug. 10, 1893. Church people then frequently 
called a prayer meeting a "concert." 



80 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Years later in distant Oregon, the natives traveled many 
miles just to hear her sing. In a letter to her mother dated 
March 30, 1837, Narcissa wrote : "While I was at Vancouver, 
one Indian woman came a great distance with her daughter, 
as she said, to hear me sing with the children." The Cayuses 
at Waiilatpu felt the charm of that same voice, so much so 
that Narcissa also wrote : "I was not aware that singing was 
a qualification of so much importance to a missionary." 
[Letter 40.] 

Joel Wakeman in one of his articles tells of a revival 
which visited Prattsburg in the summer and fall of 1832 
under the ministry of Mr. Rudd. Sunrise prayer meetings 
were held during the summer months, in which the Prentiss 
family took an active part. Of Narcissa's efforts at this 
time, Wakeman wrote : "No one devoted more time in per- 
sonal efforts to win souls to Christ than Narcissa. There are 
some still living who can trace their first serious impressions 
to her charming singing and tender appeals to yield to the 
overtures of mercy." 

At that time the Prentiss family had moved from the 
house in which Narcissa was born, and was living in "a large 
two story framed house, with a hall in the centre" which was 
located on the west side of the village green. During the 
month of October, 1832, an intensive four-day evangelistic 
effort was made, with two visiting ministerial brethren as- 
sisting Mr. Rudd. These men were entertained in the Prentiss 
home. During these "protracted meetings," the following 
incident took place : 

One evening, Mr. Higby preached on final judgment, and by a 
previous arrangement Miss Narcissa, with two or three leading singers, 
took their seats near the pulpit and the moment the speaker closed his 
sermon they struck in and sang the old judgment hymn. The reader 
can more easily imagine the effect than I can describe it. Christians 
were melted to tears, and hardened sinners bowed their heads and wept 
bitterly ; many of whom yielded to the claims of the gospel. 

She had a clear, strong voice, and by cultivation it was under 
perfect control and as sweet and musical as a chime of bells. 24 

A good index to the vitality of the spiritual life of the 
Prattsburg church is to be found in the long list of the sons 
and daughters of that church who gave their lives to full-time 
Christian service. Up to 1876 the church had sent twenty- 
six men into the ministry, and it was then reported that : 
"Not far from a score of ministers' wives have also gone 



24 Prattsburg News, Jan. 27, 1898. 




MRS. NARCISSA PRENTISS WHITMAN. 

From 3rd edition of Nixon's How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon. While 

not a drawing from life, yet it is the best likeness 

that we have of Mrs. Whitman. 



80 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Years later in distant Oregon, the natives traveled many 
miles just to hear her sing. In a letter to her mother dated 
March 30, 1837, Narcissa wrote : "While I was at Vancouver, 
one Indian woman came a great distance with her daughter, 
as she said, to hear me sing with the children." The Cayuses 
at Waiilatpu felt the charm of that same voice, so much so 
that Narcissa also wrote : "I was not aware that singing was 
a qualification of so much importance to a missionary." 
[Letter 40.] 

Joel Wakeman in one of his articles tells of a revival 
which visited Prattsburg in the summer and fall of 1832 
under the ministry of Mr. Rudd. Sunrise prayer meetings 
were held during the summer months, in which the Prentiss 
family took an active part. Of Narcissa's efforts at this 
time, Wakeman wrote : "No one devoted more time in per- 
sonal efforts to win souls to Christ than Narcissa. There are 
some still living who can trace their first serious impressions 
to her charming singing and tender appeals to yield to the 
overtures of mercy." 

At that time the Prentiss family had moved from the 
house in which Narcissa was born, and was living in "a large 
two story framed house, with a hall in the centre" which was 
located on the west side of the village green. During the 
month of October, 1832, an intensive four-day evangelistic 
effort was made, with two visiting ministerial brethren as- 
sisting Mr. Rudd. These men were entertained in the Prentiss 
home. During these "protracted meetings," the following 
incident took place : 

One evening, Mr. Higby preached on final judgment, and by a 
previous arrangement Miss Narcissa, with two or three leading singers, 
took their seats near the pulpit and the moment the speaker closed his 
sermon they struck in and sang the old judgment hymn. The reader 
can more easily imagine the effect than I can describe it. Christians 
were melted to tears, and hardened sinners bowed their heads and wept 
bitterly ; many of whom yielded to the claims of the gospel. 

She had a clear, strong voice, and by cultivation it was under 
perfect control and as sweet and musical as a chime of bells. 24 

A good index to the vitality of the spiritual life of the 
Prattsburg church is to be found in the long list of the sons 
and daughters of that church who gave their lives to full-time 
Christian service. Up to 1876 the church had sent twenty- 
six men into the ministry, and it was then reported that: 
"Not far from a score of ministers' wives have also gone 



24 Prattsburg News, Jan. 27, 1898. 




MRS. NARCISSA PRENTISS WHITMAN. 

From 3rd edition of Nixon's Hoiv Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon, While 

not a drawing from life, yet it is the best likeness 

that we have of Mrs. Whitman. 





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NARCISSA PRENTISS 81 

out from this church." 25 Most of these young people belonged 
to the generation of Narcissa Prentiss and Henry Spalding. 
The presence of Franklin Academy in the village added to 
the notable list of ministers and missionaries who at one 
time were members of the Prattsburg church. In this en- 
vironment of piety Narcissa grew to womanhood. 

Narcissa was vivacious and popular. The Prentiss home 
was the center of many a happy gathering of young people, 
in which Narcissa was a leading spirit. Sometimes Mrs. 
Prentiss would say : "I wish Narcissa would not always have 
so much company." Years later when Narcissa found her 
own home in Oregon crowded with guests, she felt moved to 
write : "It is well for me now that I have had so much ex- 
perience in waiting upon company, and I can do it when 
necessary without considering it a great task." [Letter 78.] 

NARCISSA'S EDUCATION 

Narcissa Prentiss received what can be considered a very 
good education for a young woman of her generation. She 
began her training in the common school of Prattsburg. 
Waldo is the authority for the statement that Narcissa 
studied for a time in Mrs. Emma Willard's (1787-1870) 
famous "Female Seminary" at Troy, New York. 26 Mrs. 
Willard founded her school in 1821 and soon attracted pa- 
tronage from all parts of the country. Within fifty years 
more than thirteen thousand young women studied there. 27 
The school seemed to have majored on the training of 
teachers and was what we would now call a normal school. 
It became a pattern for later women's schools as, for in- 
stance, Mt. Holyoke. 

Mrs. Willard was born in New Berlin, Connecticut, where 
Eliza Hart, who later became Mrs. Henry Harmon Spalding, 
was also born. Mrs. Willard's maiden name was Hart, and 
she was a third cousin to Mrs. Spalding. Emma Hart was 
married to Dr. John Willard in 1809. Left a widow, she 
turned her talents and energies to the field of higher educa- 
tion for women and pioneered along new lines. In a day 



25 Pratt, Historical Sketch, p. 18. 

2 <5 W.C.Q., Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 39. 

27 Sylvester, History of Rensselaer Co., pp. 233-4. In 1898 Fairbanks 
published his Emma Willard and Her Pupils, or Fifty Years of Troy 
Female Seminary, 1822-1872, which makes no mention of Narcissa 
Prentiss. However, no record of any graduates prior to 1843 is given. 
Only fragmentary records were available for the earlier years. 




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NARCISSA PRENTISS 81 

out from this church."- 5 Most of these young people belonged 
to the generation of Narcissa Prentiss and Henry Spalding. 
The presence of Franklin Academy in the village added to 
the notable list of ministers and missionaries who at one 
time were members of the Prattsburg church. In this en- 
vironment of piety Narcissa grew to womanhood. 

Narcissa was vivacious and popular. The Prentiss home 
was the center of many a happy gathering of young people, 
in which Narcissa was a leading spirit. Sometimes Mrs. 
Prentiss would say : "I wish Narcissa would not always have 
so much company." Years later when Narcissa found her 
own home in Oregon crowded with guests, she felt moved to 
write : "It is well for me now that I have had so much ex- 
perience in waiting upon company, and I can do it when 
necessary without considering it a great task." [Letter 78.] 

NARCISSA'S EDUCATION 

Narcissa Prentiss received what can be considered a very 
good education for a young woman of her generation. She 
began her training in the common school of Prattsburg. 
Waldo is the authority for the statement that Narcissa 
studied for a time in Mrs. Emma Willard's (1787-1870) 
famous "Female Seminary" at Troy, New York. 20 Mrs. 
Willard founded her school in 1821 and soon attracted pa- 
tronage from all parts of the country. Within fifty years 
more than thirteen thousand young women studied there. 27 
The school seemed to have majored on the training of 
teachers and was what we would now call a normal school. 
It became a pattern for later women's schools as, for in- 
stance, Mt. Holyoke. 

Mrs. Willard was born in New Berlin, Connecticut, where 
Eliza Hart, who later became Mrs. Henry Harmon Spalding, 
was also born. Mrs. Willard's maiden name was Hart, and 
she was a third cousin to Mrs. Spalding. Emma Hart was 
married to Dr. John Willard in 1809. Left a widow, she 
turned her talents and energies to the field of higher educa- 
tion for women and pioneered along new lines. In a day 



~~> Pratt, Historical Sketch, p. 18. 
20 W.C.Q., Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 39. 

27 Sylvester, History of Rensselaer Co., pp. 233-4. In 1898 Fairbanks 
published his Emma Willard and Her Pupils, or Fifty Years of Troy 
Female Seminary, 1822-1872, which makes no mention of Narcissa 
Prentiss. However, no record of any graduates prior to 1843 is given. 
Only fragmentary records were available for the earlier years. 



82 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

when young women did not have the same educational ad- 
vantages as young men, her school became famous for its 
advanced stand. 

Mrs. Willard was a woman of commanding personality, 
who left an indelible impression upon the thousands who 
came under her influence. She wrote on many subjects and 
was the author of "Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep," which 
song, incidentally, bespeaks her religious faith. She was a 
member of the Episcopal Church, and was active in such 
reform movements as the temperance cause. 

Just how long Narcissa was a student of Mrs. Willard's 
is not known, but in 1827 an extension was added to Frank- 
lin Academy in Prattsburg to accommodate the boarding 
department for "female" pupils. The records of the academy 
show that Narcissa was enrolled there for the term ending 
April 6, 1828. 28 

Among the treasured documents in the possession of the 
academy today is the original list of subscribers. The list 
contains the names of fifty-three who signed under the 
following statement : 

We the subscribers do hereby promise to pay to Stephen Prentiss, 
Noah Niles and Robert Porter, or their order the sums set opposite our 
names, for the purpose of establishing a permanent fund for an 
Academy to be erected in the town of Prattsburg in the county of 
Steuben, and payable in ten equal annual installments, with the 
interest payable annually on each installment, to be paid in wheat at 
one dollar per bushel, on the first day of February in each and every 
year. This obligation becomes binding, when the amount of two 
thousand dollars is subscribed as above or in lands witness our hands 
this 20th day of March A. D. 1823. 

Stephen Prentiss, who was active in the establishment of 
the academy and later one of its builders, pledged fifty dol- 
lars. The original minutes of the trustees show that Judge 
Prentiss assisted for many years in the management of that 
institution. He was kept on the list of trustees even after 
he moved to the adjoining county. 29 

The academy, which was named after Benjamin Frank- 
lin, opened its doors in the spring of 1824, with William 
Bear dsley as its first principal. Beardsley (1797-1866) was 
a graduate of Hamilton College in 1823. It appears that he 



28 Drury, Spalding, pp. 30-31, gives a brief history of the academy 
with pictures. 

29 Catalog of the academy, 1837, contains the name of Judge Prentiss 
as one of the trustees. In possession of Miss Charlotte Howe, Pratts- 
hurg, N. Y. 



NARCISSA PRENTISS 83 

attended Auburn Theological Seminary following his teach- 
ing experience in Prattsburg and was ordained in 1829. He 
later went to Illinois, where he taught in a church school at 
Quincy. Beardsley was undoubtedly the reason for the 
presence of Edward and Jane Prentiss at Quincy in 1843, of 
which mention will be made later. He was a professor in 
Wheaton College from 1859 to the time of his death in 1866. 

An old tuition bill in the archives of Prattsburg High 
School and Franklin Academy for the term ending April 5, 
1826, shows that twenty girls were then enrolled in the 
female department. When Narcissa was a student for the 
term ending April 6, 1828, there were twenty-eight girls 
and thirty-four boys in the academy. Miss Clarissa Thurston 
was then in charge of the girls. The tuition fee for the term 
of twenty-one weeks was six dollars. 

Another tuition account for the term ending September 
28, 1831, gives the names of fifty-four boys, including that 
of Henry Harmon Spalding, and of forty-six girls, including 
Narcissa Prentiss. Thus for one term, at least, these two 
were students together in the same school at Prattsburg. 30 
The principal was Seymour Gookins, A.M., and Mrs. Sarah 
Cooke was in charge of the girls. In November of that year 
the trustees of the academy inserted an advertisement in the 
Steuben Messenger of Bath in which it was stated that the 
academy library had over one thousand volumes, "and also 
several expensive articles of aparatus, among which is a 
Telescope, of sufficient magnifying power to display the 
Sattellites and Belts of Jupiter and the Ring of Saturn." 31 

Some writers have developed the theory that Henry 
Spalding was a suitor for the hand of Narcissa Prentiss. The 
theory gave a plausible explanation for some dissension 
which later grew up in the Oregon mission. It was based 
upon an ambiguous phrase in one of Narcissa's letters. 
[Letter 79.] On the other hand, the theory was vigorously 
denied by Prattsburg residents, and, moreover, evidence was 
found which showed that Spalding was once engaged to 
another Prattsburg girl. After this engagement was broken, 
he entered into a correspondence with Eliza Hart, of Holland 
Patent, New York, whom he later married. In view of the 
fact that documentary evidence was lacking to prove that 



30 Correcting the statement made in Drury, Spalding, p. 38. Since 
the publication of the Spalding book, the tuition bill for Sept. 28, 1831, 
was discovered. Owned by James McCall, of Bath. 

31 Original paper owned by Miss Howe, of Prattsburg. 



84 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Henry was a suitor of Narcissa, the author of this work in 
his biography of Henry Harmon Spalding rejected the 
theory. However, new evidence has been discovered which 
seems to show conclusively that Henry was indeed a rejected 
suitor. On January 11, 1893, Narcissa's youngest sister 
Harriet (Mrs. J. W. Jackson) wrote from Oberlin, Ohio, and 
said regarding Henry Spalding : 

He was a student when a young man in Franklin Academy, Pratts- 
burg the place of our nativity, and he wished to make Narcissa his 
wife, and her refusal of him caused the wicked feeling he cherished 
toward them both. 32 

The consequences of this love affair were far-reaching, as 
shall be explained later. 

The academy had many students who later became well 
known in the affairs of the world. One of them, David 
Malin, became pastor of a prominent church in Philadelphia. 
In October, 1837, he was married to Mary Porter, a close 
friend of Narcissa. Out in Old Oregon, Narcissa named a 
forlorn half-breed Indian boy whom she took into her home, 
David Malin. 

Narcissa's experience as a schoolteacher should be in- 
cluded as a part of her education, for therein she received a 
training which was of the greatest value to her in Old Ore- 
gon. We have the record of two people who speak of their ex- 
periences as pupils under Narcissa. 0. P. Fay, of Vermont- 
ville, Michigan, writing on January 16, 1898, to the Pratts- 
burg News said : 

I well remember Marcus Whitman's wife Narcissa Prentice; she 
taught our district school when I was quite a lad, and she seemed to me 
then as a woman of rare abilities, with qualifications sufficient to teach 
in any academy instead of in a common school which showed that she 
was willing to labor wherein she could find work to do. She had a 
class in natural philosophy and wanted to start one in chemistry also, 
but that was more than we could venture to try until we had gradu- 
ated in philosophy. She taught the best school of any teacher in our 
district. 

Natural philosophy was the term then used to designate what 
we now call physics. It was then unusual for a woman to be 
interested in science. 

The second report of Narcissa's work as a schoolteacher 
comes from Miss Alice C. Pratt, of Prattsburg, whose mother 
attended an "infant school," that is, kindergarten, which 
Narcissa conducted in Bath. Miss Pratt's mother was four 



32 To Mrs. Eva Emery Dye, Coll. 0. 



NARCISSA PRENTISS 



85 



years old at the time and although she lived to be nearly 
ninety she never forgot the song taught by her teacher. 33 



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to and fro 



In a mer ry J""' - '!/ """> 



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ft 


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Surift - I]/ turn - ing round and round, Do not look u pan the ground, 



Fol - low me 



full o/ glee. 



Sing ing 



mer ri - ly. 



JJJJJIJJJJJJ'JJJJJ 



Sing -ing mcr-ri-ly, mer-ri-ly, mer-ri-lv, Sing -ing mer~ri-ly. mcr-ri-ly, mer-ri-lv, 



J U 



- low me full of glee, 



Siny ing 



mer - ri - /y. 



Perhaps we can see a reference to another school that 
Narcissa may have taught at Butler in the letter Marcus 
wrote to Jane Prentiss, of which mention has already been 
made. Marcus is not explicit ; he merely states that Narcissa 
was then in Butler. 

Available records do not permit us to reconstruct with 
accuracy the events of those years from April, 1828, when 
she finished a term in Franklin Academy, to the summer of 
1833. Wakeman states that "she taught district schools 



33 In a letter from Miss Pratt dated Feb. 2, 1936, to the author. See 
also Waldo in W.C.Q., Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 39. 



86 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

several years with marked success," and that soon after he 
became acquainted with the family, Narcissa was giving her 
time to home duties. 34 

"ARE FEMALES WANTED?" 

Wakeman tells us that the people of Prattsburg were 
troubled with rumors in the spring of 1833 to the effect that 
the Prentiss family was considering moving from the village. 
The long residence of some twenty-seven or twenty-eight 
years was to be terminated. Just why this move was con- 
sidered advisable is not known, but in all likelihood it was 
due to business reasons. Judge Prentiss was a carpenter. 
Other and newer settlements then developing may have 
offered more opportunities for his craftsmanship than did 
Prattsburg, which by that time was assuming the character 
of a settled community, with little new building. 

So it was, according to Wakeman, that the Prentiss 
family moved to Amity in Allegany County, which adjoins 
Steuben County on the west. Amity was about fifty miles 
from Prattsburg. It is assumed that the move was made 
sometime during the latter part of 1833. At Amity, Judge 
Prentiss erected some dwelling houses and built a bridge 
over the Genesee River which flows near the village. Life 
in Amity was more primitive than it was in Prattsburg, for 
it was a newer community with fewer people. 

At Amity, Narcissa gave herself to the little church that 
had been organized one year previous, or on January 30, 
1832, by the Rev. Moses Hunter, of Angelica. The church 
had but few members and held its meetings for nine years in 
a log schoolhouse. During the years 1833 to 1835, the Rev. 
Samuel May served as pastor of the struggling congregation, 
supplying also at the same time other congregations in the 
vicinity. 

A minute from the record book of the Prattsburg church 
shows that on Sunday, April 27, 1834, letters of dismission 
were issued to Stephen and Clarissa Prentiss, and to Jonas 
G., Narcissa, Clarissa, Harriet, and Edward "to join the 
Presbyterian Church in Amity, N. Y." 35 In January, or the 
early part of February, 1835, the Rev. Oliver S. Powell, a 



34 Prattsburg News, Jan. 27, 1898. 

35 The original minutes of the Amity church were also examined. 
A record was found of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Prentiss, Jonas G., and 
Edward being members but no indication of when they joined. No 
mention was made of Clarissa, Harriet, or Narcissa. 



NARCISSA PRENTISS 87 

brother-in-law of Samuel May, became minister of the 
Amity church. Mr. May had become pastor of the Angelica 
church in December, 1834. Narcissa was a welcomed guest 
in the homes of both of these pastors and became friendly 
with them and their wives. 

In the latter part of November, 1834, the Rev. Samuel 
Parker made his way over the muddy roads into Allegany 
County. He had been holding missionary meetings in west- 
ern New York and was looking for workers who would be 
willing to go to the Indians beyond the Rocky Mountains. He 
also sought to raise as much money as he could to support 
the mission. Parker had just come from Wheeler, where he 
had interested Dr. Marcus Whitman in the project. Accord- 
ing to Parker's son, a meeting was held at Angelica, at which 
Narcissa Prentiss was present. 36 

We do not have the record of their meeting, but we may 
imagine Narcissa's going to Mr. Parker and telling him of 
her desire to be a missionary and then asking : "Is there a 
place for an unmarried female in my Lord's vineyard?" 
Parker was not sure about that. He had been looking for 
men, or possibly a married couple, but had not expected to 
find a young unmarried woman who was ready to go. In a 
letter to the American Board written on December 17, he 
asked. 

Are females wanted? A Miss Narcissa Prentiss of Amity is very 
anxious to go to the heathen. Her education is good piety conspicuous 
her influence good. She will offer herself if is needed. 

A few weeks later, on January 1, 1835, Parker again 
wrote to the Board and referred to Miss Prentiss and to a 
Miss McCoy. He explained his caution in giving advice. "I 
think," he wrote, "I said nothing about their going among the 
Indians, or to any particular part of the world, but only they 
would offer themselves if their services are needed. I recol- 
lect that I told them if they offered themselves it must be to go 
anywhere the Board should choose." 

Greene, replying to the first letter of Parker's above 
mentioned, wrote on December 24 : "I don't think that we 
have missions among the Indians where unmarried females 
are valuable just now." Parker must have been rather dis- 



36 Parker MS., p. 180 : "The finding of Miss Prentice, if my memory 
is correct was at Angelica, N. Y. where my father held meetings and 
she was present." See Powell to Green (Coll. A.) Dec. 6, 1834: "The 
Rev. Mr. Parker visited this place a few weeks since & urged upon our 
attention the need of a missionary to go among the Omaha Indians." 



88 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

cour aging to both Miss Prentiss and Miss McCoy, for Greene 
wrote again on January 7, 1835, saying that no word had 
been received from them. The idea of using single women 
in the mission work of the Board was somewhat new. Greene 
took the idea under consideration. On January 2, 1835, he 
wrote to Henry Harmon Spalding, who was then planning 
to go to the Osage Indians, and said : 

Female teachers our missionaries have all along supposed could 
not be employed usefully, except at boarding schools. I am not certain 
that their opinion is correct, even at the present time; and I am quite 
confident that the way may be opened for them in a year or two, if 
the Osages should become settled. 37 

Narcissa herself felt such doubt on the subject that she 
did not send in her letter of application until February 23, 
1835, and then it was with the prospect of going as a married 
woman. 

At the time Parker met Narcissa, he met Mr. and Mrs. 
O. S. Powell, who also volunteered. Parker was much pleased 
with their qualifications and recommended their appoint- 
ment. The Board accepted the application of the Powells, 
and they were appointed missionaries on January 6, 1835. 
Circumstances prevented their going to a field that spring, 
and after that other causes prevented their departure. 

According to the testimony of one of Parker's sons, it was 
Parker who first told Marcus Whitman about Narcissa's 
offer. If this be true, we know the suggestion came at an 
opportune time. Whitman had informed the Board that if 
he were appointed, he would consider getting married. Nar- 
cissa had learned that the Board was not much interested 
in "unmarried females." We do not know when Whitman 
first met his future wife. Certainly they were not strangers 
to each other when Parker suggested to Whitman that he 
call upon her. It is reported that Narcissa later said : "We 
had to make love somewhat abruptly, and must do our court- 
ship now we are married." 38 

Narcissa was getting along in years. She was then ap- 
proaching her twenty-seventh birthday and not married. In 
those days she was already considered an old maid. But she 
was not one to marry just to be married. Unless she found 



37 Quoted in full in Hulbert & Hulbert, The Oregon Crusade, pp. 
289 ff. 

38 W.C.Q., Vol. 2, No. 3, p. 13 : "It is the impression of Dr. S. J. 
Parker, son of Rev. S. Parker, . . . that his father wrote Dr. Whitman 
that he had better go and see her at her father's house." 









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By courtesy of the American Board. 




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NARCISSA PRENTISS 89 

a companion who would share with her the religious convic- 
tions of her heart, she would probably have preferred to 
remain single. A common purpose was instrumental in 
drawing the two together. 

THEY PLIGHT THEIR TROTH 

Marcus Whitman learned of his appointment by the Board 
about the 14th of January. He then made the trip to Ithaca 
to see Parker, where, incidentally, he learned more about 
Narcissa, and was back in Wheeler by the 2nd of February. 
Whitman planned to leave Wheeler by February 16. [Letter 
6.] He went to Rushville to say farewell to his mother, other 
relatives, and friends. He did not receive Greene's final in- 
structions until February 19 and left the same day for the 
West. [Letter. 9.] He spent the week end over Sunday, Feb- 
ruary 22, at Amity, where he was the guest, for part of the 
time, in the home of the Rev. and Mrs. 0. S. Powell. Amity 
was about a day's ride from Rushville. 

Powell wrote to Greene on March 18, 1835, making men- 
tion of Whitman's visit in these words : "About 3 weeks since 
Dr. Whitman spent a Sabbath with me while on his way 
west." Sometime during this visit to Amity, Marcus pro- 
posed marriage to Narcissa and was accepted. The next 
Monday, February 23, Marcus started for St. Louis. It was 
on that day that Narcissa reached into her desk for a sheet 
of her pale-green letter-paper, on which she wrote in a beau- 
tiful script her letter of application to the American Board. 
The opening part of the letter is as follows : 

To the Secretaries of the A.B.C.F.M. 

Dear Brethren 

Permit an unworthy sister to address you. Having obtained 
favour of the Lord and desiring to live for the conversion of the 
world I now offer myself to the American Board to be employed in their 
service among the heathen, if counted worthy. As it is requested of me 
to make some statements concerning myself I shall endeavour to be 
as brief as possible knowing the value of your time especially under 
the late afflictive bereavement. 

The reference to a bereavement was to the death of one 
of the secretaries of the Board, Dr. B. B. Wisner, who died on 
February 9. Greene had made mention of the death of Dr. 
Wisner in his letter of that date to Whitman. The fact that 
Narcissa knew about it on the 23rd of the month is clear 
proof that Whitman had either told her, or had let her read 
Greene's letter. 



90 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Narcissa briefly reviewed her early life. She closed her 
letter with these words : 

Feeling it more my privilege than my duty to labour for the con- 
version of the heathen, I respectfully submit myself to your direction 
and subscribe Your unworthy sister in the Lord 

NARCISSA PRENTISS 

On the back of the letter are three short testimonials. 
The Rev. Samuel W. May, who signed himself "Minister of 
Angelica," wrote : 

Dear Brethren: Having been acquainted for some time past with 
Miss Narcissa Prentiss I therefore most cheerfully recommend her 
to your Board as well qualified for usefulness in instructing the 
heathen in the way to Heaven. 

The Rev. William Bridgman, pastor of the Presbyterian 
church at Cuba, wrote : 

Having been requested to express my opinion of the qualifications 
of Miss Narcissa Prentiss as an assistant missionary I would cheer- 
fully say that from a personal acquaintance with Miss Prentiss I do 
consider her well qualified for usefulness in that station. 

The Rev. Oliver S. Powell wrote : 

I fully concur in the above recommendations. I would add that Miss 
Prentiss is a member in good standing of this 1st. Pres. Church of 
Amity of which I now have the charge. I am happy in the prospect of 
having so efficient a fellow labourer in the missionary service. 

And then Powell added this illuminating footnote : 

P.S. As it is probable that Miss Prentiss will hereafter become the 
companion of Doct. Marcus Whitman (should he be established mis- 
sionary beyond the Rocky Mts.) it may be proper to add that he 
expressed a desire that she might accompany us on our mission as it 
will be a field of usefulness & an opportunity presented for becoming 
acquainted with the labors of a missionary. 

Ellis May, Elder in the Amity church, also wrote : 
I concur in the above recommendations. 

Thus the story unfolds. The Powells were half expecting 
to be sent to some tribe west of the Mississippi that year, and 
Marcus and Narcissa had discussed the possibility of Nar- 
cissa's accompanying them. Out of the 222 letters written 
by either Marcus or Narcissa which were consulted in the 
preparation of this work, there is only one which was written 
by Marcus to Narcissa, and the original of this was not lo- 
cated. Marcus wrote to his fiancee from Liberty, Missouri, 
on April 30, saying : 



NARCISSA PRENTISS 91 

I had not given up the hope that you would have come on with Mr. 
Powell until I received your letter. I regret very much that he did not 
come. 

From this letter we assume that Narcissa had suggested 
that they be married when Marcus was with her in Amity so 
that she might go with him, for Marcus wrote : 

In reading your letter I was surprised exceedingly that you should 
have conceived it practicable for you to have crossed the mountains this 
spring. Had I known one half as much of the trip as I now do, when 
I left you, I should have been entirely willing, if not anxious, that you 
should have accompanied us. 

This letter is printed in Mowry's Marcus Whitman, and 
at this point Mowry indicates that Narcissa had written on 
the margin of the letter : 

Mr. Parker said I could go just as well as not. N. Prentiss. 

Whatever the advice of Parker may have been regarding 
the feasibility of taking "females" over the mountains, 
Marcus with his sound common sense was taking no chances 
until he had investigated. White women had never crossed 
the Rockies. Was it possible ? Was it wise ? Marcus decided 
to make certain before taking Narcissa with him. 

Narcissa's letter of application was sent to Mr. Parker, 
who forwarded it to the Board on March 5, with a letter of 
his own, in which he wrote as follows regarding the future 
Mrs. Marcus Whitman : 

I enclose you Miss Narcissa Prentiss' offer of herself to become a 
missionary. I have for some time been acquainted with Judge Pren- 
tiss' family. Their standing as intelligent Christians in public estima- 
tion is good. Narcissa's education, talents, person, disposition, con- 
ciliatory manners, and sound judgment promise well for usefulness in 
a mission field. 

As a result of such testimonials and her own letter of 
application, Narcissa was appointed on March 18, 1835. In 
the letter of notification, nothing definite was said about her 
destination. It was to be to some tribe west of the Missouri. 
It seemed to have been understood that she was to wait until 
Dr. Whitman returned, or until some report had been made 
about the explorations that he and Parker were making. 



CHAPTER FIVE 

TO THE ROCKIES 
1835 

AFTER Whitman had settled up his affairs at Wheeler, 
he went to Rushville to await final instructions from 
Greene. The letter arrived on Thursday, February 19, and 
Whitman left that same day for Amity. Whitman had 
planned to be in St. Louis on April 1, so he was eager to be on 
his way. We can assume that he was in Amity not later than 
Friday, and that he was on his way again the next Monday. 
Writing to Greene from Liberty, Missouri, on May 13, Whit- 
man declared that he had furnished his own horse, equipage, 
and such outfit as he felt it necessary to take. His other 
baggage he left with Mr. Parker, who made the trip from 
Pittsburgh to St. Louis by boat. Whitman drew upon the 
Board for one hundred dollars to cover expenses. 

Since Whitman mentioned to Greene his desire to visit 
relatives and friends in Ohio and Illinois [Letter 6], we 
can trace out the approximate route he took. After leaving 
Amity, he probably proceeded westward until he came to the 
Buffalo-Cleveland highway, which passed through Kirtland, 
Ohio. There he must have seen the Mormon temple then in 
the process of construction. In 1835 the Mormons were still 
a main topic of conversation for the non-Mormons of the 
vicinity. 

At Kirtland, Whitman turned south to Chester where 
he found many old friends and relatives from western 
Massachusetts. Among these were John Packard, 1 with 
whom Whitman had lived at Plainfield when he attended 
Moses Hallock's school, and his foster parents, Freedom and 
Sally Whitman. Two of his father's sisters, Mehitabel 
Bates 2 and Sally Richmond, and their families had also 
moved to the same vicinity. 

The records of the Baptist church of Chester bear testi- 



1 His tombstone is in the Chester Center cemetery. He died April 
11, 1843, aged 59 years. 

2 Farnham, Descendants of John Whitman, p. 245. A fifteen-foot 
monument in the Chester County cemetery bears her inscription and 
also that of her son Erastus. 



TO THE ROCKIES 93 

mony to the character of Freedom Whitman. Page after 
page tells the story of his influence and ability. For more 
than ten years he continued to occupy positions of trust 
and responsibility. From these entries we learn much of 
him who was a father to Marcus Whitman longer than Beza 
Whitman or Calvin Loomis. We know that Marcus, during 
the impressionable years from eight to eighteen, was under 
the influence of a godly man of talent and ability. 

A striking evidence of the esteem in which Marcus Whit- 
man was held by those of his own generation is to be found 
in the fact that four boys were named after him during his 
lifetime. His sister Alice married Henry F. Wisewell, and 
to this union was born a son on May 23, 1838, who was called 
Marcus Whitman Wisewell. At Chester, Ohio, Marcus 
visited his cousin Abner C. Bates, the son of Mehitabel. 
Abner's son, born April 26, 1840, was called Marcus Whit- 
man Bates. Even those who were not related to him, 
honored him by giving their sons his name. A son of Whit- 
man's co-workers in Old Oregon, the Rev. and Mrs. Elkanah 
Walker, born at the Walker mission station, March 16, 
1842, was named Marcus Whitman Walker. A fourth name- 
sake was Marcus Whitman Saunders, born May 8, 1846, at 
Rushville, New York. In later years many have been named 
after Dr. Whitman. 

While en route from Chester, Ohio, to St. Louis, Whit- 
man undoubtedly paused at Danville, Vermilion County, 
Illinois, to call on his brother Samuel, who had married 
Mary Jenkins Peabody, of Rushville, on April 3, 1929. There 
on March 4, 1830, a son was born to them whom they called 
Perrin Beza after his two grandfathers. Two other children 
besides Perrin had arrived at Samuel's home before Marcus 
visited there sometime in March, 1835, but our interest 
centers in Perrin, who, in 1843, accompanied his uncle out 
to Old Oregon. 

PARKER AND WHITMAN 

Whitman reached St. Louis on Wednesday, April 1, where 
he received a letter from Greene which contained his com- 
mission. Parker did not reach St. Louis until Saturday, 
April 4. Together they called upon the officials of the Ameri- 
can Fur Company and secured permission to go with the 
caravan across the plains that summer. The two left St. 
Louis on the steamboat Siam for Liberty, Missouri, on April 
8. The boats usually made the trip between these points in 



94 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

seven or eight days, but this time, because of an accident, 
it took them a full two weeks. 

On account of unfavorable weather conditions the cara- 
van was unable to leave Liberty before May 14. Whitman 
and Parker, therefore, found they had plenty of time to 
complete their arrangements. At first Whitman deferred to 
the years and the previous experience of Parker, but he soon 
came to distrust Parker's judgment in matters pertaining to 
their travel. Parker, who knew from personal experience 
the difficulty of raising money for missions, was too cautious 
in his expenditures. None of the contemporaneous letters of 
Whitman's reveals his uneasiness on this point, but several 
years later when word reached Whitman of some criticisms 
that Parker had made of the expenses of the Oregon mission, 
he was stimulated to write a long and revealing letter to the 
American Board. [Letter 62.] 

Parker wanted to limit their personal baggage to fifty 
pounds each and to take but one pack animal. "One mule," 
wrote Whitman, "was to pack all the provisions necessary 
to take us that long route, including the different items of 
clothing, etc., besides cooking furniture, bedding, tent, etc." 
Whitman urged the purchase of a fourth animal, but Parker 
then refused. Some extra baggage was placed in one of the 
wagons belonging to Lucien Fontanelle, who was the captain 
of the caravan. So the matters stood on the eve of their 
departure from Liberty. 

On the morning of the 14th, the caravan started for 
Bellevue, which was located about twenty miles south of 
the present city of Council Bluffs, Iowa. The trail led up 
the east bank of the Missouri, crossed the river at Bellevue, 
and then continued westward along the north bank of the 
Platte. Whitman gives a vivid description of their departure : 

And now for the task of packing, a thing I have never seen done 
and had no example before me, as the Company was to go up to 
Bellevue before arranging their bags transporting all their goods in a 
. . . boat. This task Parker performed alone in the streets of Liberty, 
and after putting all of our possessions on the poor old mule, Parker 
started alone, but did not get far before all [was] in disorder and need- 
ed repacking, a scene often occurring and for which I was often blamed 
by Mr. Parker for my unskillful management. [Letter 62.] 

At Liberty Whitman and Parker met the Rev. Moses 
Merrill, who had a wagon heavily loaded with supplies for 
his mission station at the Otoe Agency. Merrill had opened 
his work in 1833 at the Agency, which was located about 



TO THE ROCKIES 95 

twelve miles south of the present city of Omaha, Nebraska, 
and about a mile and a half north of the Platte River. Con- 
tinuing with Whitman's description of the trip from Liberty 
to Bellevue, we read : 

It was not long before we found Mr. Fontennelle did not wish to 
take the trouble of our provisions and we were forced to put them into 
Mr. Merrill's waggon, although he was obliged with a loaded ox team 
to keep up with Mr. Fontennelle with . . . mules and empty waggons. 
In order to do this I assisted him in taking out his bags at every bad 
place and carrying them on our backs, or else lifting up the wheels in 
the mud, etc. 

In addition to these difficulties, the rough and ungodly 
men of the caravan did not appreciate the presence of the 
two missionaries, and forcibly expressed their disapproval. 
Whitman wrote: 

Very evident tokens gave us to understand that our company was 
not agreeable, such as the throwing of rotten eggs at me. 

Whitman did his best to offset this disapproval by help- 
ing the men get their wagons over the difficult places. 

I used to labor with extreme exertion with Mr. Fontennelle's men 
in crossing rivers, making rafts and bridges, etc. 

By the time they reached Bellevue, Whitman found him- 
self "very much exhausted in health." 

Parker, in the third edition of his Journal of cm Explor- 
ing Tour from Beyond the Rocky Mountains, likewise speaks 
of the hostility of the men of the caravan, who "so disliked 
the restraints which our presence imposed upon them that 
as they afterwards confessed they had plotted our death & 
intended on the first convenient occasion to put this purpose 
into execution." 3 Surely a word needs to be spoken in behalf 
of Mr. Parker. He was not by nature or disposition qualified 
to be a frontiersman. He was then fifty-six years old, a man 
more suited to the study than for roughing it on the plains. 
It was, indeed, a strong sense of duty which caused him to 
give up the comforts of his Eastern home for the life of an 
explorer. 

WHITMAN'S JOURNAL 

Whitman began his journal on May 14, the day they left 
Liberty. The journal was kept with more or less regularity 
until October 26, when Whitman was back at Cantonment 
Leavenworth after his trip to the Rockies. He took the 
journal with him to his home in Rushville, where, it appears, 
he copied it and sent the copy, with a letter, to the American 

3 p. 46. 



96 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Board on December 17. This copy, now in the files of the 
American Board, appeared in the September, 1927, issue of 
the Oregon Historical Quarterly, edited by F. G. Young. A 
comparison between the original journal 4 and the copy sent 
to the Board reveals the fact that Whitman made many 
changes, mostly of a minor character. The following is a 
good example : 

ORIGINAL JOURNAL AMERICAN BOARD COPY 



(May) 24 The Sabbath. Rested 
in company with Rev. Moses Mer- 
rill. How refreshing is the rest of 
the Sabbath and how delightful 
is social worship in this unculti- 
vated Prairie. Mr. Fontanell's 
men went on. 

26th Started and crossed the 
big Tarkoo with raft. Came up 
with Mr. Fontanell at evening. 

27 Spent the day in crossing 
the River on the raft 

28th Made a raft and crossed 
the west branch of the Nishnibat- 
lon (?) Mr. Fronsa (?) has Wag- 
gons which he crosses on the raft. 
We swim our animals over. The 
water was rising so fast we had 
great difficulty to get off the bot- 
tom after crossing 

29th Made a bridge over the 
five barrel creek. 

30th Bridged the maraguim 
creek and crossed, the mission 
and came to Bellvue. We stopped 
at the government agency under 
the hospitality of Mr. Merrill. 
The Brethren Dunbar and Allis 
of the Pawnee mission are here 
awaiting the arrival of Maj 
Dockerty agent for the Pawnees. 
They speak encourageingly of 
their reception among the Paw- 
nees. 

10 June I was called to visit 
one of Mr. Fontanell's men sick 
with cholera Spent much of the 
night with him 

llth Patient much relieved 



24. The Sabbath. We rested in 
company with Mr. Merrill. Mr. 
Fontanelle's men went on. How 
refreshing is the Sabbath and 
how delightful social worship in 
this uncultivated prairie. I bled 
myself for the pain in my side 
which is quite severe. 

30. We arrived at Bellevue 
after a very fatigueing journey. 
The rains were excessive and the 
streams high. Most of them had 
to be bridged or crossed by rafts. 
We put up with Mr. Merrill at the 
agency. Messrs. Dunbar and 
Allis are here waiting for Maj. 
Dockerty, agent for the Pawnees. 
They speak encouragingly of 
their reception among the Paw- 
nees. 

31st. Sabbath. Mr. Parker 
preached in Mr. Merrill's house 
in the morning & in the evening 
prayer meeting. 

1st June. Attend concert with 
Mr. Merrill's family and the 
Brethren of the Pawnee mission. 
How blessed is the consideration 
of union and concert in such a 
cause. 

10. I was called to visit one of 
Mr. Fontanelle's men sick with 
cholera. Spent much of the night 
with him. 

llth. Patient much relieved. 



4 Coll. U. The author had the privilege of studying this in the 
original in November, 1935. The part the author saw was incomplete, 
for it took the entries only to July 13. The Dunbar and Allis men- 
tioned in the entry for May 30 were the Rev. John Dunbar and Samuel 
Allis who went out with Mr. Parker in 1834. 




THE MERRILL MISSION HOUSE. 

Built in 1834 on the north bank of the Platte River three miles west of 
North Platte, Nebraska, by the Rev. Moses Merrill, a Baptist missionary 

from Maine. 

By courtesy of Louis R. Bostwick, of Omaha. 



96 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Board on December 17. This copy, now in the files of the 
American Board, appeared in the September, 1927, issue of 
the Oregon Historical Quarterly, edited by F. G. Young. A 
comparison between the original journal' 1 and the copy sent 
to the Board reveals the fact that Whitman made many 
changes, mostly of a minor character. The following is a 
good example: 

ORIGINAL JOURNAL 

(May) 24 The Sabbath. Rested 
in company with Rev. Moses Mer- 
rill. How refreshing is the rest of 
the Sabbath and how delightful 
is social worship in this unculti- 
vated Prairie. Mr. Fontanell's 
men went on. 

26th Started and crossed the 
big Tarkoo with raft. Came up 
with Mr. Fontanell at evening. 

27 Spent the day in crossing 
the River on the raft 

28th Made a raft and crossed 
the west branch of the Nishnibat- 
lon (?) Mr. Fronsa (?) has Wag- 
gons which he crosses on the raft. 
We swim our animals over. The 
water was rising so fast we had 
great difficulty to get off the bot- 
tom after crossing 

29th Made a bridge over the 
five barrel creek. 

30th Bridged the maraguim 
creek and crossed, the mission 
and came to Bellvue. We stopped 
at the government agency under 
the hospitality of Mr. Merrill. 
The Brethren Dunbar and Allis 
of the Pawnee mission are here 
awaiting the arrival of Maj 
Dockerty agent for the Pawnees. 
They speak encourageingly of 
their reception among the Paw- 



nees. 

10 June I was called to visit 
one of Mr. Fontanell's men sick 
with cholera Spent much of the 
night with him 

llth Patient much relieved 



AMERICAN BOARD COPY 

24. The Sabbath. We rested in 
company with Mr. Merrill. Mr. 
Fontanelle's men went on. How 
refreshing is the Sabbath and 
how delightful social worship in 
this uncultivated prairie. I bled 
myself for the pain in my side 
which is quite severe. 

30. We arrived at Bellevue 
after a very fatigueing journey. 
The rains were excessive and the 
streams high. Most of them had 
to be bridged or crossed by rafts. 
We put up with Mr. Merrill at the 
agency. Messrs. Dunbar and 
Allis are here waiting for Maj. 
Dockerty, agent for the Pawnees. 
They speak encouragingly of 
their reception among the Paw- 
nees. 

31st. Sabbath. Mr. Parker 
preached in Mr. Merrill's house 
in the morning & in the evening 
prayer meeting. 

1st June. Attend concert with 
Mr. Merrill's family and the 
Brethren of the Pawnee mission. 
How blessed is the consideration 
of union and concert in such a 
cause. 

10. I was called to visit one of 
Mr. Fontanelle's men sick with 
cholera. Spent much of the night 
with him. 

llth. Patient much relieved. 



4 Coll. U. The author had the privilege of studying this in the 
original in November, 1935. The part the author saw was incomplete, 
for it took the entries only to July 13. The Dunbar and Allis men- 
tioned in the entry for May 30 were the Rev. John Dunbar and Samuel 
Allis who went out with Mr. Parker in 1834. 




THE MERRILL MISSION HOUSE. 

Built in 1834 on the north bank of the Platte River three miles west of 
North Platte, Nebraska, by the Rev. Mose.s Merrill, a Baptist missionary 

from Maine. 

By courtesy of Louis II. Hoslwick, of Omaha. 



TO THE ROCKIES 97 

CHOLERA 

The dread cholera first visited St. Louis in the summer 
of 1832. It reappeared in the following summer with les- 
sened force, but in 1834 it was worse than it had been in 
1832. On June 10, 1835, Dr. Whitman was called to minister 
to a sick man of Fontanelle's caravan and diagnosed the case 
as cholera. 

Whitman himself was not in good health. The trip from 
Liberty proved to be the hardest part of the whole journey. 
Whitman had been more willing to share the burdens of that 
trip than his physical strength permitted. Although afflicted 
with his chronic ailment, he was called upon to relieve the 
pains of others. On the 14th Whitman wrote in his journal : 
"I am much afflicted with pain in my head and side. Used 
remedys." On the 16th he felt strong enough to see some 
patients. Of this he wrote : 

16th My (health) improved. Went to see the man for whom I 
was called last night. I found him past hope of recovery in collaps of 
Cholera, he died soon after I saw him. Another case without Shelter, 
upon the ground and much neglected for nursing. Exposed to a severe 
shower in the evening soon after which he died. 5 

During the following days others were taken ill, includ- 
ing Mr. Fontanelle himself. At least three cases were fatal. 
On Sunday, June 21, Whitman wrote the following: 

For the last twelve days have been attending upon Mr. Fontanille's 
men; the cholera has raged severely among them; three only have 
died. Mr. Fontanille is sick with it himself, but now convalescent. 

It is not strange that they should have the cholera, because of 
their intemperance, their sunken and filthy situation. They have been 
removed for some days out upon the Bluffs where they have a clean, 
healthy situation. [Letter 12.] 

The hostility of the men toward Parker and Whitman 
now completely disappeared. Parker reported to the Board 
that had it not been for the successful practice of Dr. Whit- 
man, the caravan would probably have been unable to cross 
the plains that summer. 6 Whitman, in his letter to Greene 
of December 17, 1835, made mention of the gratitude of Mr. 
Fontanelle. He wrote: "We received the kindest treatment 
from Mr. Fontanell especially after we left Bellvue." 

Thus by a strange set of circumstances we find that the 
knowledge and experience which Whitman acquired as a 



5 Original diary, Coll. U. 

Parker to Greene, June 21, 1837, Coll. A. 



98 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

village doctor in Wheeler became an important factor in 
opening up Oregon for the missionaries of the American 
Board. If there had been no cholera epidemic at Bellevue, 
would Parker and Whitman have been able to get to the 
rendezvous? Certainly we know that the good-will and 
co-operation of the men of the caravan, and especially of 
the leader, were essential to the missionaries, and these 
Whitman won by his efficient ministrations at Bellevue. 

After the unexpected delay occasioned by the sickness, 
which extended to three weeks, the caravan proceeded again 
on June 21. That being a Sunday, Parker and Whitman 
refrained from traveling and so spent the day with Merrill. 
They easily overtook the caravan on Monday. 

BELLEVUE TO THE RENDEZVOUS 

Whitman demanded of Parker the purchase of another 
pack animal at Bellevue, and after some debate on the sub- 
ject, succeeded in persuading him to buy it. Thereafter, 
most of the labor connected with packing and unpacking 
these animals fell upon Whitman. 

According to Whitman's journal, Fontanelle had "be- 
tween fifty and sixty men, six waggons, three yoke of oxen, 
and nearly two hundred horses and mules." Whitman was 
especially interested in the wagons. Wherever they could 
go, women could go, for if the women wearied of riding on 
the sidesaddles, they could ride in the wagons. Later, when 
Whitman wrote to Greene about the feasibility of taking 
women across the Plains, he stated : "We can go as far as the 
Black Hills with a waggon for the convenience of females." 
[Letter 14.] 

On June 22 Whitman referred to his health as then being 
"still feeble." On the 24th a heavy shower of rain drenched 
the caravan as the men were preparing to camp. "The 
water ran like a brook through our tent," wrote Whitman 
in his journal, "so that we were unable to lay down untill 
late and then with wet blankets." The Elkhorn River was 
crossed on the 26th. To accomplish this they converted a 
wagon box into a boat by covering it with skins. The Fourth 
of July, then the major festival day for the whole nation, 
was spent with the Pawnee Indians. "We were invited to 
three feasts two made of corn and one of dry buffalo meat," 
wrote Whitman of this experience. 

It was the custom of the fur men to carry with them 
only enough food to enable them to reach the buffalo range, 



TO THE ROCKIES 99 

which usually took from two to three weeks. After that 
they lived almost entirely upon buffalo meat and other wild 
game. Because of the delay at Bellevue, they ran short of 
food before they found buffalo. The first of the shaggy 
beasts of the prairies was killed on July 13. 

Whitman was sick for the week beginning July 7. The 
exposure to wet, the cold nights, and a bad case of dysentery 
so sapped his strength that he could ride only with the 
greatest difficulty. He did not go into detail in his journal 
regarding this experience, but in his letter of May 10, 1839, 
he wrote : 

Soon after passing the Pawnees, I was taken sick with a painful 
bowel complaint. Being often obliged to stop, I fell in the rear of camp 
and was unable to overtake them again until they had been encamped, 
for I was too weak to ride faster than a walk. I must have failed by 
the way had it not been for one of the Companies Clerks who kindly 
kept me company and assisted me in mounting and dismounting my 
horse. [Letter 62.] 

By this time Fontanelle had realized that the presence of 
a physician in the caravan was a distinct asset and perhaps 
delegated one of his men to assist Whitman. Whitman be- 
moaned the fact that he and Parker did not have a man 
in their employ to help them, especially since Parker was so 
ill fitted for camp life. "I do not recollect," he wrote, "that 
Mr. Parker ever got a meal during my sickness either for 
himself or me, but went to eat with Mr. F., and it was only 
by the favour of his cook that I obtained a little food 
occasionally." 

On the 16th of July the caravan passed the forks of the 
Platte and continued up the north bank of the North Fork 
to Fort Laramie, which they reached on the 26th. There the 
missionaries met a delegation of the Ogalalla Sioux Indians. 
On the 30th Mr. Parker held a conference with one of the 
chiefs, who expressed a desire for Christian teachers. In 
an interesting letter to his family, written August 19, 1835, 
Mr. Parker tells of his singing the song, "Watchman, tell us 
of the night," to the Indians, who no doubt were attracted 
by the novelty of a white man singing for them. Parker, 
however, gives the following interpretation to the incident : 

They wished me to sing the hymn again, and when I had done so, 
they took me by the hand to express their satisfaction. Some others 
came around, and those who came first wished me to sing the hymn 
for them to hear, and when I had done so, they again took me by the 
hand. It moved my heart, and it would have moved the hearts of the 
Christians of the east, had they witnessed the scene. Can they not now 



100 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

be moved, and send missionaries to teach these very interesting people 
the way of salvation. Are there no young men who are willing to 
take up the cross and come. 7 

The caravan continued the journey on August 1. The 
wagons were left at the Fort and the baggage transferred to 
pack animals. Thomas Fitzpatrick took over the command 
at Fort Laramie, relieving Fontanelle. With him Whitman 
formed a friendship which was to prove of value the follow- 
ing year. The Continental Divide was crossed on August 
10. The trail led through South Pass, which came to be 
known later as the gateway to Oregon. The ascent of the 
pass is very gradual, though the elevation is about 7,500 
feet at the summit. The pass is several miles wide and is 
flanked on both sides by snow-capped mountains. Whitman 
noted that there was no reason why wagons should not go 
through it, and indeed learned that wagons had been taken 
to the rendezvous on a previous occasion. In his journal 
he wrote : " . . . we could cross the mountains with a waggon. 
There were 20 waggons at one time from St. Louis at the 
place where the company rendezvoused last summer." 
Whitman's interest in the wagons is one indication of his 
desire to marry and to take Narcissa over the Rockies. 

It was cold in the mountains at night. The day after they 
crossed the divide the thermometer read 23 F. in the morn- 
ing. On the 12th the caravan reached the rendezvous, which 
was located that year on the Green River, a branch of the 
Colorado. There they found most of the trappers and 
traders of the mountains and several thousand Indians im- 
patiently awaiting their arrival. Whitman said that there 
were "about two thousand Shoshoni or Snake Indians, and 
forty lodges of Flathead & Napiersas [Nez Perces], and a 
few Utaws." [Letter 11.] 

AT THE RENDEZVOUS 

The annual gathering at the rendezvous was the one big 
social event in the life of the mountain men. It was a time 
for business, when the trappers traded their furs for the 
supplies which had been brought out from civilization, and 
it was a time for social pleasure when old friendships were 
renewed. Always there was much carousing, for one item 
of trade was liquor, which was carried in kegs built to fit the 
backs and sides of the horses or mules. Prices were high for 
the goods brought from St. Louis, while comparatively low 



7 Owned by Mr. L. Alexander Mack, a great-grandson of Parker. 



TO THE ROCKIES 101 

prices were paid for the furs. G. W. Ebberts in his "A 
Trapper's Life in the Rocky Mountains" states that tobacco 
was sold for two dollars a pound; whisky at two dollars a 
pint ; three awls cost fifty cents ; and a red and green blanket 
sold for twenty-five dollars. In return the Company al- 
lowed five dollars a pound for furs, five dollars for a small 
beaver skin, and seven dollars for a large one. 8 

Both Parker and Whitman were dismayed to see the 
demoralizing effects of the liquor traffic, not only upon the 
white men but upon the Indians as well. Upon Whitman's 
return he wrote on December 28 to Greene at some length 
in regard to this problem. "All the present regulations upon 
this point are disregarded or evaded," he declared, "and I 
fear all further regulations will be equally ineffectual." 
Whitman felt that the Government should take some steps 
to curb the evil, but realized that it was a delicate problem 
for missionaries to handle because of their dependence upon 
the traders for various favors. He wrote : "You are aware 
of the delicacy of this subject to one who is liable to be 
exposed to opposition of traders." [Letter 15.] 

On the 13th of August, the day after their arrival at the 
rendezvous, Dr. Whitman removed from the back of Bridger 
a three-inch iron arrow point which had been embedded 
there three years previous in a battle with some Blackfeet 
Indians. Parker, describing the operation, wrote as follows : 

It was a difficult operation, because the arrow was hooked at the 
point by striking a large bone and a cartilaginous substance had 
grown around it. The Doctor pursued the operation with great self- 
possession and perseverance; and his patient manifested equal 
firmness. 9 

The operation was performed in the presence of many 
witnesses, including some Indians, who admired both the 
skill of the surgeon and the endurance of the patient. Medi- 
cal science then knew nothing of anesthesia, so Jim Bridger 
had to grin and bear it. Thus began a friendship between 
Whitman and Bridger which continued until death sepa- 
rated them. Years later, Bridger sent his half-breed daugh- 
ter, Mary Ann, to the Whitman home at Waiilatpu to be 
educated. 

Whitman's reputation as a competent physician and sur- 
geon was firmly established by the success of the Bridger 



8 Ebberts MS., Bancroft Library, Berkeley, Calif., pp. 8-9. 

9 Parker, Journal, p. 76. Hafen and Ghent, Broken Hand, p. 103, 
gives the story of how Bridger was wounded in 1832. 



102 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

operation. Others who had arrowheads embedded in their 
flesh came and begged for their removal. Even some of the 
Indians came forward. Here was a medicine man greater 
than any they had ever seen, whose skill was as magic in 
their eyes. Whitman sent one of these extracted arrow 
heads as a souvenir to a friend in the East. 10 Parker stated 
that "calls for medical and surgical aid were constant every 
hour in the day. 11 

Due attention has never been given to the important con- 
nection which existed between Whitman's medical and sur- 
gical ability and the founding of the Oregon mission of the 
American Board. It has often been stated that some foreign 
mission field has been opened at the point of a lancet, re- 
ferring to the pioneer labors of a missionary doctor who had 
won the confidence of the natives through his medical and 
surgical skill. So may it be said of Oregon. Dr. Whitman 
was the first American-trained physician ever to cross the 
Rocky Mountains. Jason Lee and his companions, who were 
the first Protestant missionaries to cross the Rockies, had 
the good fortune to go out with the Wyeth Expedition in 

1834. But such expeditions did not go out every year. The 
American Board was dependent upon the good-will and 
co-operation of the American Fur Company and of the 
Hudson's Bay Company for the establishment of its Oregon 
mission. 

If the Board had sent out some tactless individuals in 

1835, the way would have been closed for any further effort. 
But, instead, the Board sent Parker and Whitman. While 
Parker was not a frontiersman, he did have an attractive 
personality that won friends for him all along the way. 
Sometimes he imposed upon these friendships, not from any 
selfish motive, but for the sake of saving money for the 
Board. 

In Whitman, however, the Board had unknowingly chosen 
a man superbly qualified for the very task that had to be 
done. More important than spying out the country was the 
winning of friendships among those whose co-operation was 
the key to the success of the enterprise. And this is what 
Whitman did. At Bellevue, when cholera struck the men 
of the caravan, it was Whitman who saved many of their 
lives and made the trip that summer a possibility. And at 



10 Owned by Miss Alice Wheatley, Clifton Springs, N. Y. Reported 
to have been taken from the back of an Indian. 

11 Parker, op. cit., p. 77. 



TO THE ROCKIES 103 

the rendezvous, it was Whitman's medical skill which made 
him the most popular man at that mountain gathering. 

On Sunday, August 16, Parker and Whitman met with 
the principal men of the Flathead and Nez Perce Indians and 
explained the object of their visit. A mountain man by the 
name of Charles Compo, who had married into the Nez Perce 
tribe, was secured as an interpreter. Without a doubt, the 
missionaries made reference to the Nez Perce delegation 
which visited St. Louis in the fall of 1831 in search of the 
white man's Book. They told of the possibility of having 
missions established, provided the Indians were willing to 
extend the necessary protection and co-operation. Whit- 
man's account of the conference, as found in his journal, is 
as follows : 

16. We had a talk with the chiefs of the Flathead and Napiersas 
tribes, in which they expressed great pleasure in seeing us and strong 
desire to be taught. Little Chief of the Flatheads said he was greatly 
rejoiced when he heard there was a teacher from the Almighty and 
physician coming among them ; that he immediately set out to meet us ; 
that on their way they were robbed by the Crow Indians and that he 
lost a horse he loved very much, but that since he had seen us he did 
not lament the loss of his horse. He had been told some things he said 
about the worship of God but he did not practice them. But now, if a 
teacher would come among them, he and his children (meaning all 
over whom he had authority) would obey all that he should say. 

Parker and Whitman were deeply stirred by the earnest- 
ness and sincerity of the Indians. They made inquiries and 
found that the Methodist missionaries had settled in the 
Willamette Valley. After serious discussion and prayer, 
Whitman dropped the remark that "... if we had another 
associate with us I should like to return, and if the Board 
should approve, come out next year with others to establish 
a mission among them." Whitman added in his journal: "I 
did not at this time think it practicable for him [Parker] 
to go without me." Somewhat to Whitman's surprise, Parker 
insisted that it would be perfectly satisfactory to him to go 
on alone. Whitman raised objections by asking what the 
people in the States would think if some accident befell 
Parker. "I told him to give himself no uneasiness upon this 
subject," wrote Parker, "for we could not go safely together 
without divine protection, and with it, I could go alone." 12 
It was a courageous attitude to take. All honor to him ! 

Gray, in his Oregon, states that the two men separated' 



12 Parker, op. cit., p. 78. 



104 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

because Parker was "rather fastidious" and could not "put 
up with the off-hand, careless, and, as he thought, slovenly 
manner in which Dr. Whitman was inclined to travel." 13 
Gray felt that this subdued friction which existed between 
the two men was the primary reason for Whitman's return. 
While it may have been a contributing factor, it was hardly 
the main cause. Both Parker and Whitman had a deep and 
sincere desire to benefit the Indians and, whatever their 
personal feelings might have been, these were subordi- 
nated to their high sense of duty. It might have been that 
Whitman, convinced that women could cross the plains, 
wanted to return to marry Narcissa and take her with him 
to the Northwest. 

On the 17th Parker and Whitman met with the Indians 
again to discuss the idea of Parker's going with them. 
Parker asked if they would give him safe escort to Walla 
Walla if Whitman returned "and made known their wishes 
to the Fathers (the Board)." The Indians were quick to 
give this assurance. They promised to assist in packing and 
caring for Parker's animals. The decision was final. Parker 
was to go on alone and continue the exploring trip, while 
Whitman was to return for more workers. 

Since the Indians were eager to be on their way the 
missionaries found that they had but four days in which 
to complete their arrangements. Letters had to be written 
for Whitman to carry back. Whitman turned over both 
pack animals to Parker with nearly all of their equipment, 
and Whitman bought "a horse for five dollars which was a 
disgrace to any man to pack on account of his extreme sore 
back." [Letter 62.] The price of an ordinary horse at the 
rendezvous was one hundred dollars, which was more than 
Whitman felt he could pay. However, his pack was light. 

The services of Charles Compo were secured as inter- 
preter and servant for Parker, which relieved Whitman's 
mind considerably. Whitman found a Nez Perce boy named 
Tackitonitis, who had some knowledge of the English 
language, and he conceived the idea of taking the boy with 
him back to the States. "My reason for taking him is," wrote 
Whitman in his journal, "that he ... by being with white 
people . . . will soon speak so as to interpret or assist in learn- 
ing his language." It was a good idea. Two years previously 
Captain Wyeth had taken two Indian boys East with him. 



13 P. 108. 



TO THE ROCKIES 105 

A few days after Whitman secured permission to take 
Tackitonitis, whom he renamed Richard, one of the Nez 
Perce chiefs came with his son, Ais, and begged Whitman 
to take him also. Ais had a horse and the necessary equip- 
ment. Of this experience Whitman wrote : 

The father said he had but one more son, but he was willing to 
part with this one that he might be taught the religion of the whites 
or the Christian religion. I did not like to take him as I had one al- 
ready, but at the request of Mr. Parker I consented that he might 
come along with me and go to his family and the people of Ithaca. 
[Letter 11.] 

Parker wrote to his family on the 19th, and on the 20th 
added a postscript to his letter in which he too wrote about 
Ais, whom he renamed John. Parker wrote : "There was an 
affecting parting between him and his father. His father 
pointed upward and then separated." 14 Thus Whitman found 
himself responsible for two Nez Perce boys. 

On Friday, August 21, the Indians moved their camp 
three miles. Whitman went along and spent the night 
with Parker. The next morning the two men parted, never 
to meet again. It has been supposed by some that Whitman 
visited Parker in Ithaca in the spring of 1843. Recently 
discovered evidence, which will be introduced in its proper 
place, shows that this was not so. With a heavy heart Whit- 
man mounted his horse and returned to the rendezvous to 
be ready to return with the caravan. On that day Whitman 
wrote in his journal : 

22. Mr. Parker went on this morning, after we had unitedly sought 
the blessing and guidance of God. He went on with firmness. I re- 
gretted exceedingly to see him go alone, but so we have decided, hoping 
more fully to advance the cause of our divine master. 

The caravan laden with furs did not get started until 
August 27. During the interval Whitman was busy not only 
with his medical service, but also with the task of gathering 
such information as he could regarding the various Indian 
tribes, their languages, customs, and the nature of the 
country in which they lived. This information he embodied 
in the report that he submitted with his journal to the Board 
after he had returned. 15 

Whitman was not a man of many words. For the most 
part his letters are short, frequently confined to one letter 



14 Parker to his family, Aug. 19, 1835. Owned by Mr. Mack. 

15 See critique of the journal by F. G. Young, in O.H.Q., Sept., 
1927. 



106 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

page. Parker with considerable literary skill wrote a book 
of his experiences on this trip which went through five 
American editions and one English edition. Whitman never 
dreamed of writing a book. In a scrawl rather difficult to 
read, with some misspelled words, he penned his concise 
statements to the Board. His keenness in picking out the 
essential facts and his accuracy of statement more than com- 
pensated for his lack of literary ability. 

He classified the Indians into tribes that spoke the same 
language. He advised against the establishment of a fixed 
mission station among some of the tribes who still depended 
upon buffalo for their food. Regarding the possibility of 
a party of missionaries crossing the plains and the moun- 
tains in 1836, he wrote that Fontanelle had assured him the 
Company would furnish them with meat after they reached 
the buffalo range. He investigated the possibility of securing 
supplies in the Oregon Country and wrote : 

We could drive cows and other cattle without much if any expense 
and I would advise to take enough so that in case of necessity we might 
kill some for beef after we arrived at our destination. For a time, 
untill we could cultivate, we should have to depend upon the Northwest 
Fur Company for flour and corn meal. . . . Besides the country abounds 
in salmon. . . . Cattle and horses may be wintered in the plains beyond 
the mountains with moderate attention. 

It was just the kind of report the Board wanted. They 
acted upon his recommendations, and the plans outlined 
in 1835 were followed to a remarkable extent in 1836. 

Whitman included in this report an account of the Indian 
delegation that visited St. Louis in the fall of 1831. Whitman 
claimed that he received his information direct from Fon- 
tanelle, "under whose protection they came and returned." 10 
No doubt the Indians went to St. Louis with the returning 
caravan of 1831, but they returned a different way, for the 
two survivors went up the Missouri on the first steamboat 
that ascended that stream as far as the mouth of the Yellow- 
stone. George Catlin, the Indian painter, was also a passen- 
ger on that boat, and painted their pictures. According to 
Whitman, three of the four Indians who reached St. Louis 
were Nez Perces, and one was a Flathead. This harmonizes 
with other contemporary information and adds to Whitman's 
reputation for being a keen observer and a careful writer. 

Whitman forwarded his journal and report to the Board 



16 Drury, Spalding, Chapter 3, gives a detailed study of the 
delegation. 



TO THE ROCKIES 107 

from Rushville, New York, on December 17, 1835. Greene 
received it on December 23. 

THE RETURN TRIP 

The caravan made good time on its return trip. Fort 
Laramie was reached on the 8th of September. On the 23rd 
of the month the caravan was in the buffalo country, and 
three days were spent in killing buffalo and in drying enough 
meat to take them to civilization. On the 10th of October, 
Whitman met Dunbar and Allis again near Council Bluffs. 
He wrote of the joy he had in "social worship and inter- 
course." Whitman told of his plan to take out missionaries 
for an Oregon mission in 1836 and undoubtedly mentioned 
his desire to be married. Both Dunbar and Allis were en- 
gaged, and they asked Whitman to escort their fiancees 
the next spring to Liberty. 

Whitman continued his journey on the 12th. He visited 
Fort Leavenworth on the 26th, where he had a conference 
with Colonel Henry Dodge, who had just returned from a 
military expedition that had taken him as far west as the 
Rockies. The fact that Colonel Dodge had taken wheeled 
cannons with him confirmed Whitman in his belief that 
wagons could be taken to Oregon. 

On the 4th of November, Whitman was in St. Louis. 
From there he wrote a letter to Greene dated the 7th. In this 
letter he told of Parker's going alone to the Columbia and of 
his own return for missionaries. Although Whitman said 
nothing definite in this letter of his desire to be married and 
take his wife with him, yet Greene was able to read between 
the lines. On December 8, Greene replied to the letter, ad- 
dressing it to Rushville, and asked : 

Have you carefully ascertained & weighed the difficulties in the 
way of conducting females to those remote & desolate regions and 
comfortable sustaining families there? How are the common & what 
are usually deemed the indispensable articles of furniture used in 
housekeeping to be obtained or transported? How are annual supplies 
to be obtained, with such certainty that a family may safely depend 
upon them? 

In this letter Greene wrote further : "We have a number 
of candidates who have expressed a desire to go to the remote 
western tribes. Rev. Oliver S. Powell & wife, now at Fowler s- 
ville, Rev. Daniel Clark & wife, agent of the Am. Bible 

Society " When Greene received Whitman's journal and 

report he found answers to many of his questions and 
doubts. 



108 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

In the closing- paragraph of Whitman's report, mailed 
from Rushville on December 17, he stated : "I received fifty- 
five dollars from Mr. Trueman, Cincinnati, for which I gave 
a receipt, and twenty dollars from the Presbyterian church 
at Erie, Pa., which I desire you to acknowledge in the 
Herald as a donation to the Board." This gives us the neces- 
sary information by which we can outline a part of Whit- 
man's return trip. He proceeded by boat up the Ohio River 
to Cincinnati, then by stage to Cleveland, and then by boat 
or stage to Erie. Since he received a donation at Erie from 
a church, it is probable that he spent a Sunday there and 
attended the Presbyterian church, of which the Rev. George 
A. Lyon was then pastor. 

Whitman's next stop was at Angelica, where the Prentiss 
family then lived. With high hopes Marcus and Narcissa 
discussed the possibility of their marriage. They agreed 
that it was essential for them to have another married couple 
in the party. Perhaps Marcus learned from Narcissa the 
fact that Henry and Eliza Spalding were under appointment 
and were to go to the Osage Indians in western Missouri the 
next spring. Whitman wrote to Spalding to find out if he 
were willing to go to Oregon and received a reply at Rush- 
ville on December 16. In Whitman's letter to Greene, writ- 
ten the next day, he said : 

I received a letter yesterday from H. H. Spalding saying he would 
be ready to accompany me across the mountains if the Board should 
approve of it. 

I hope you will appoint Mr. Spalding or Mr. Clark, if he has been 
approved by the Board and is not appointed to a particular station. 
Mr. Spalding said he knew of farmers and mechanics that would go 

We do not know with certainty just when Whitman 
reached Rushville. According to a statement made by Mrs. 
Mary Alice Wisewell Caulkins, 17 a daughter of Whitman's 
only sister, Marcus reached his mother's home with the two 
Indian boys late on a Saturday night, perhaps December 
II. 18 The family had gone to bed when Marcus arrived. 
Mrs. Caulkins described the meeting as follows : 

His Mother, then Mrs. Loomis, hearing a noise, recognized his 
step and went out in her nightclothes to meet him, and Marcus said, 
"How do you do, Mother?" 



Caulkins MS., Coll. Wn. 

18 Whitman's letter of Nov. 7, mailed from St. Louis, reached 
Boston by the 8th of Dec. Since Whitman evidently wrote soon after 
his return, it appears that he was home by the llth. 



TO THE ROCKIES 109 

They sat around the fireplace and talked late into the 
night. It takes but little imagination to recreate that circle 
of eager listeners, absorbing every word of a fascinating 
tale. Mrs. Caulkins also gives the following incident which 
took place the next day : 

A brother, Augustus, lived only across the street, but the Sabbath 
was so strictly observed that there was no communication between the 
two families on that day, so Augustus and his family were already in 
church without knowing that Marcus was in town, and when he 
walked in followed by the two Indian boys, the niece, Deborah Whit- 
man, jumped up and cried, "Why there's Uncle Marcus." 19 

Deborah was sixteen years old when she broke the 
decorum of the assembled congregation by crying out, "Why, 
there's Uncle Marcus." 

After a short visit with relatives in Rushville, Whitman 
took the two Indian boys to Ithaca. When Whitman wrote 
to Greene on December 17, he added this postscript : "I have 
the two Napiersa boys with me, one of which design to take 
to Ithaca in a few days." In the library of Cornell University, 
Ithaca, New York, is a manuscript of about seventy thousand 
words written by Samuel Parker, M.D. (1818-1898), the son 
of the Rev. Samuel Parker, who writes of the arrival of 
Dr. Whitman with the Indian boys at Ithaca. 

My recollections are that one day late in the fall of 1835, he came 
to my father's house (now mine in which I write this) and there was 
at the door the two Indian boys, that he said he had been a few days 
with his brothers family at Rushville; and that the Indian boys could 
not bear to be separated, that he talked over the missionary matter 
with my mother; and called together the Ithaca Presby. Church and 
town mission committee; and after a few days consultation, left the 
Indian boys both in this house. 20 

Dr. Parker then relates several interesting anecdotes 
about Richard and John. The Rev. Samuel Parker's two 
sons, Samuel and Henry, were then lads of about the same 
ages as the Indian boys and they endeavored to show the 
Indians a pleasant time. When the creeks were frozen and 



19 Caulkins MS., Coll. Wn. This was in an envelope addressed to 
the Rev. S. W. Pratt, D.D., postmarked Naples, Oct. 8, 1902. Mowry, 
Marcus Whitman, p. 63, gives a different version, stating that it was 
his mother who exclaimed: "Well, well, there is Marcus Whitman." 
Ells, Marcus Whitman, p. 30, gives the same story. 

20 Pp. 446 ff . The Parker home was partially burned in 1934 ; but 
was soon rebuilt. Another Parker house, at 404 Seneca St., is still 
standing. The June 21, 1929, issue of the Ithaca Journal-News contains 
an article, with picture of the house, by L. Alexander Mack, describing 
the dwelling. 



110 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

snow was on the ground, the Nez Perces were taken out for 
some winter sports. "Nothing would persuade the Indian 
boys," wrote Dr. Parker, "to put on a pair of skates ; or ride 
down hill on a 'coaster sled.' " He also related this interest- 
ing incident : 

. . . and what was amusing these Indian boys were ever on the look 
out for being murdered. As one day they came home on the most rapid 
run, having seen a 'codger' with a gun just above Spring St. And 
another [time] while four or five boys of us were sporting on skates 
... a man with a gun hunting partridges, sent them off like the wind ; 
into the cliffs of the creek, while we skated undisturbed. 

The Indian lads, who had been taught to be suspicious of 
all strangers, and especially strangers with guns, found it 
difficult to adjust themselves to the security of civilized life. 
We do not know how long both boys remained at Ithaca. Dr. 
Parker states that they attended a school taught by Miss 
Emeline Palmer, "who lived near the head of Seneca St. on 
Eddy St." Miss Palmer was engaged to Samuel Allis, and 
took a special interest in the boys because of her ex- 
pected employment in the mission field. It appears that 
Whitman took Richard back to Rushville and placed him in 
a school there sometime during the winter. The boys ac- 
quired a considerable knowledge of the English language and 
were useful as interpreters and teachers in 1836. 

Greene looked upon the experiment with doubtful eyes. 
Writing to Whitman on December 30, he said : 

I think you will have cause to regret that you brought the two 
Indian boys with you. Our whole experience is against such a measure. 
The boys will probably be ruined by the attention which they will 
receive, and the high notions which they will get by being among 
white people and seeing their ways. It will probably do the church 
rather hurt than good, although it may increase their donations some- 
what for the time being They can hardly fail to occasion con- 
siderable expense. 

The two boys rendered valuable services to the mission 
party which crossed the Plains in 1836, for they helped in 
caring for the cattle. However, after their arrival in Ore- 
gon, Richard gave Whitman considerable trouble, of which 
mention will be made later. 

The year 1835 closed with Whitman engaged in doing 
what Parker had been doing just a year before looking for 
missionaries who would be willing to go to the Indians beyond 
the Rocky Mountains. The Board's reply to Whitman's letter 
of November 7, written from St. Louis, was received after 
Whitman had sent in his journal on the 19th. Whitman 



TO THE ROCKIES 111 

wrote again from Cohocton on December 28. Greene had 
asked about the advisability of taking "females to those 
remote & desolate regions." Whitman replied : 

In answer to yours of 4th Dec. I would say that I think the ques- 
tions are substantially answered by my communication already for- 
warded to you. We should expect to take pack animals sufficient to 
carry every absolutely necessary article of cook utencil, furniture 
and clothing. 

He pointed out the fact that heavier articles could be sent 
by boat around the Horn, and that many items could be 
purchased at Fort Vancouver from the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany. The arguments presented by Whitman were con- 
vincing, for the Board thereafter co-operated with Whit- 
man in finding a married couple to go with him. Greene wrote 
on December 30, even before he had received Whitman's 
letter of the 28th, but after the receipt of the journal, sug- 
gested that Whitman communicate with the Rev. Chauncey 
Eddy, agent of the Board for New York State, "relative to 
suitable persons to accompany you on yr return." 

Thus the year 1835 came to an end without the appoint- 
ment of any missionaries to return with Whitman. Since 
he wanted to be on his way by the middle of February, he 
had then but six weeks in which to find his associates. 



CHAPTER SIX 

WHITMAN IS MARRIED 

1836 

QOMETIME during the spring or summer of 1835, the 
O Prentiss family had moved from Amity to Angelica, 
about seven miles distant but within the same county. The 
minute book of the Angelica church shows that on Sunday, 
September 27, 1835, "Stephen Prentiss and Clarissa his 
wife, Narcissa, Clarissa, Harriet R. and Edward W., their 
children presented a letter with the request to be received 
into the church and their request was granted." The Rev. 
Leverett Hull was then pastor of the church. Another entry 
for Sunday, November 1, of the same year states that the 
Prentiss family was that day formally received into the 
membership of the church at a communion service. 1 Nar- 
cissa' s younger brother, Jonas Galusha, who had his mem- 
bership transferred with the others to the Amity church, did 
not join the Angelica church. He entered the mercantile 
business at West Almond, Allegany County, where later 
Judge and Mrs. Prentiss spent the declining years of their 
lives. 

Narcissa with characteristic enthusiasm gave herself to 
the activities of the Angelica Presbyterian church. She sang 
in the choir and taught a class of girls in the Sunday school. 
In the spring of 1835 the church experienced a revival under 
the leadership of the pastor and the Rev. Samuel W. May, 
which added about 90 members, 2 including the family of 
William Geiger, of particular interest because several years 
later, a William Geiger, of Angelica, perhaps William, Jr., 
entered the employ of Dr. Whitman at the mission station 
in Old Oregon. According to the 1836 Minutes of the Pres- 



1 P. 55 of minutes. In the summer of 1935 the author examined the 
the original records of this church at Angelica. Miller, Presbyterianism 
in Steuben and Allegany, p. 64, gives a brief history of this church. 
The organization is no longer in existence. 

2 Mr. Hull's quarterly reports to the American Home Missionary 
Society are in the Hammond Library, Chicago Theo. Sem. His salary 
was $500 a year. His reports indicate much activity. 



WHITMAN IS MARRIED 113 

byterian General Assembly, the Angelica church had 185 
members. 3 

Stephen Prentiss was quickly recognized as a leader by 
the members of the Angelica church. He was elected to the 
office of elder on January 21, 1836, and was ordained on 
Thursday evening, February 18. Both he and his pastor 
were sent as commissioners to the Presbyterian General 
Assembly which met at Philadelphia that year. He and his 
wife remained members of the Angelica church until May 
9, 1842, when they were dismissed to the Presbyterian 
church in Cuba, Allegany County, New York. 4 

A letter written by Narcissa to Mrs. Sarah Hull, wife 
of the Angelica pastor, gives evidence that Narcissa was 
early aware of the necessity of finding associates for the 
Oregon mission. The letter was printed in Mowry's Marcus 
Whitman but without date or place of writing. From internal 
evidence, it is apparent that it was written from Amity in 
the summer of 1835. She wrote : 

I received a letter last week from Rev. D. Clark, New York, which 
has greatly relieved my mind from that state of suspense in which it 
has long been laboring. . . . You will see that his heart, as our hearts, 
is on the Astoria mission. 

It seems that the Board had written to Clark about some 
"obstacles." Clark had in turn written to Narcissa, perhaps 
sending her a copy of his reply to the Board. 

What can be the obstacles which the Board of Missions speak of? 
Is it want of funds or missionaries? Or is it want of faith and prayer 
in the churches? Surely the obstacles cannot be with the Indians, when 
they have sent over to us and invited us to carry them the Word of 
Life. 

At times my mind labors excessively on this point, and I have 
been well-nigh .crushed with an unsupportable load for want of 
strength to roll it upon the Lord. But I can say, notwithstanding the 
clouds of darkness that overshadow the future, and the obstacles that 
roll up before the mind like waves of the sea, that I am permitted 
to believe that a mission will be established there soon, at least before 

many years shall have passed away Will not the dear Christians 

in Angelica remember this Oregon mission at their monthly concert 
of prayer? [Letter 10.] 



3 The Rev. Gilbert Reid, A.M., for many years a missionary in 
Peking and Shanghai, China, went out from this church. Mr. Reid 
founded the International Institute in Shanghai. 

4 Narcissa's first known letter addressed to her parents at Cuba 
was dated Feb. 7, 1843. Thereafter all letters to her parents were sent 
there. Spalding sent his letter of April 6, 1848, telling of the massacre 
to West Almond, N. Y., which shows that Spalding had learned that 
the Prentisses had moved. 



114 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

When Marcus visited Narcissa at Angelica in November, 
1835, it is reasonable to believe that she told him of the 
appointment of the Rev. and Mrs. H. H. Spalding to Boudinot 
in western Missouri. The Spaldings had expected to leave 
for their field in the fall of 1835 but were delayed. An entry 
in the Spalding family Bible, now in the library of Pacific 
University, Forest Grove, Oregon, states that Mrs. Spalding 
gave birth to a stillborn baby girl at Prattsburg on October 
24, 1835. Mrs. Spalding's serious illness made it necessary 
for them to postpone their departure until spring. Un- 
doubtedly all of this was known to Narcissa. 

Whitman mailed his rewritten journal to the Board from 
Rushville on December 17. In a footnote he wrote: "I re- 
ceived a letter yesterday from H. H. Spalding saying he 
would be ready to accompany me across the mountains if 
the Board should approve of it." It was Whitman's hope to 
be on his way to Oregon by the latter part of February or 
the first part of March, 1836. He knew there was no time 
to lose. It then took from a week to ten days for a letter to go 
from Rushville to Boston. 

Greene answered Whitman's letter of November 7, writ- 
ten from St. Louis, on December 8. He, too, knew the 
necessity of haste in finding proper associates and sug- 
gested several names, including those of the Rev. and Mrs. 
Oliver S. Powell and the Rev. and Mrs. Daniel Clark. Both of 
these couples had previously signified an interest in the 
Oregon mission. He also suggested that Whitman get in 
touch with the Rev. Chauncey Eddy, agent of the American 
Board for New York State. 

Greene wrote again on December 30, acknowledging re- 
ceipt of Whitman's journal. In this letter he gave some good 
advice regarding the qualifications of suitable workers, but 
failed to give any more names. The whole burden of finding 
the desired associates was shifted to Whitman's shoulders. 
Greene closed his letter with these words : 

Let us hear from you soon relative to yr progress in obtaining asso- 
ciates. It seems to me that one or two ordained missionaries, a teacher, 
and perhaps a farmer and mechanic are as many as ought to go the 
coming spring. No families of children should go, and probably, the 
more of the men who go without wives, at first, the better. 

The Board's committee responsible for Indian missions 
met in Boston on Tuesday, January 5, and authorized Whit- 
man's return to Oregon, taking with him "an ordained mis- 
sionary, a teacher or catechiest, & a man able to labor as a 



WHITMAN IS MARRIED 115 

farmer, & mechanic to accompany." The committee felt that 
one married couple in addition to the Whitmans would be 
enough. "Families of children," wrote Greene to Whitman 
the next day, "cannot be taken." That was a wise provision. 
Miss Palmer and Miss Smith, the fiancees of Dunbar and 
Allis, were given permission to go out to their destination 
with the Whitman party. Dr. Benedict Satterlee, who at- 
tended Fairfield Medical College, 1835-36, and his wife 
were appointed missionaries to the Pawnee Indians. They, 
too, were to go out with the Whitmans as far as their field. 
Greene had little to offer in the way of helping Whitman find 
the Oregon workers. He even confessed his ignorance of 
Clark's address, and Clark was then considered to be the 
one best qualified to go with Whitman. Greene gave this 
word of caution: "Better go alone than with unsuitable 
associates, therefore use great caution in finding & recom- 
mending men." 

It is easy to imagine that by this time Whitman was 
getting anxious. He felt the necessity of returning to the 
mountains. He had promised to meet Parker there. He had 
given the most solemn assurances to the fathers of the two 
Indian boys that he would return them in the summer of 
1836. Moreover, he had told the Nez Perces that he would 
return with workers the next summer. He knew it was 
unwise to marry Narcissa and go out with her alone. 

On the same day that Greene wrote to Whitman, that 
is, January 6, 1836, Whitman wrote to Greene. He informed 
Greene that the Powells were disqualified because a child 
had been born to them. He had written to both Eddy and 
Clark without receiving a response from either. Twice in the 
letter he mentions Spalding : 

I have as I mentioned before received encouragement from the 
Rev. H. H. Spalding who is (as I said) designed by the Board for 
Boudinot among the Osages that he would go with me if the Board 
would alter his designation. 

P.S. I hope the Board may think best to alter the designation of 
the Rev. H. H. Spalding as he expresses a willingness that they should. 

Greene answered this letter of Whitman's on January 
15. He wrote that he was still hopeful of getting Clark's 
consent to go. Regarding the Spaldings, he said : "The same 
objection we suppose to lie against Mr. & Mrs. Spalding, 
which you mention in the case of Mr. Powell. Besides these, 
we have no missionary candidates as preachers, who can be 
ready to proceed as early as will be necessary." As far as 



116 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Greene was concerned, the outlook was dark for Whitman. 
Only six weeks remained before Whitman should be going 
and still no one else was appointed ! 

It so happened that the very day Greene was writing to 
Whitman, telling of his hope to get Clark, Clark was writing 
to Greene. Clark had his heart set upon a station which 
he felt should be established at Astoria. He did not want to 
go into the interior of Oregon. Thus Clark eliminated him- 
self. Greene received Clark's letter on the 22nd and at once 
wrote to Whitman : 

I have today received a letter from Rev. D. Clark Jr. declining to 
go to the Flatheads and Nez Perce Indians. He states that his mind 
is fixed on Astoria. . . . 

I do not know where to look for a missionary to accompany you, 
unless Mr. Spaulding should go. His child (as I understand he has 
one) will be a hindrance; and it seems to me that no person with an 
infant child should go to such a work. 

Besides I have some doubt whether his temperment well fits him 
for intercourse with the traders and travellers in that region. As to 
laboriousness, self-denial, energy and perseverance, I presume that 
few men are better qualified than he. 5 

Matters were swiftly approaching a crisis. Whitman 
wrote to Greene from Rushville on January 29. He had 
received Greene's letter of the 15th but not his letter of the 
22nd. Whitman stated that he felt it necessary to leave for 
St. Louis "by 25th. Feb. or at furtherest the 1st of March." 
He said that he had written to Eddy and "have been in con- 
stant expectation of an answer." Whitman was worried. 
Precious time was slipping by. He had found a man at Co- 
hocton, David Weld, who expressed a willingness to go, 
only the time then was too short for him to make ready. 
Regarding Spalding, Whitman wrote : 

Your allusion to Mr. Spalding is not correct; they lost their child 
by death some time since. They expect to be at Prattsburgh where I 
can see him if desired. 

Greene received this letter on February 5 and replied at 
once. In his letter of December 30, Greene had listed the 
desirable qualifications for an Oregon missionary and added : 
"these are the persons wanted for such a service ; and such I 
hope you may find the finger of Providence pointing to." 



5 Hulbert & Hulbert, Marcus Whitman, Crusader, prints most of 
the correspondence between Whitman and Greene in full, but Greene's 
letter of January 22, 1835, is unfortunately omitted. The letter is to 
be found in Coll. A., Vol. 17, Domestic Correspondence, pp. 523-524. 
See Drury, Spalding, p. 112. 



WHITMAN IS MARRIED 117 

The "finger of Providence" was pointing to Henry Harmon 
Spalding. One by one all possible candidates had been 
eliminated except Spalding, who had expressed his willing- 
ness to go when Whitman first approached him upon the 
matter. Greene, now that he was informed of the death of 
Spalding's child, found no other objection to a change of 
destination, and yet he was a bit vague in his reply. He 
wrote: "I know not who will accompany you, unless Mr. 
Spalding should; and respecting the change of his destina- 
tion, we are held in suspense by the uncertainty which still 
hangs over the fate of the Osages." There was nothing- 
definite about that ! Yet Whitman was quick to read into the 
words permission for him to intercede with Spalding. 

Whitman received the letter on the 12th, possibly the 
13th, of February. He left at once for Prattsburg, twenty- 
five miles to the south. There he found to his dismay that 
the Spaldings had already left for their field in western Mis- 
souri. Spalding had converted his light wagon into a sleigh 
by the use of temporary runners, for it was winter and the 
snow was deep in places. But Whitman learned that the 
Spaldings intended to spend Sunday, February 14, at the 
village of Howard, about twenty miles to the southwest. He 
immediately set out in pursuit. 

THE SPALDINGS 

Henry Harmon Spalding was graduated from Western 
Reserve College, then at Hudson, Ohio, on August 28, 1833. 
He received the A.B. degree. He was married on Sunday 
evening, October 13 of that year, at Hudson, to Miss Eliza 
Hart, of Holland Patent, New York. Eliza was born at Ber- 
lin, then Kensington, Connecticut, August 11, 1807, the 
daughter of Captain Levi and Martha Hart. She was less 
than a year older than Narcissa Prentiss. 

The Hart family had moved to Holland Patent, Oneida 
County, New York, in 1820. Eliza became a member of the 
church there and was active in its work. For a time she 
attended a "female seminary" in Clinton, New York. Very 
little is known of her early life and education. Shei was in 
Hudson, Ohio, during Spalding's last year at Western Re- 
serve, and may have attended one of the seminaries for 
young women then being conducted in that town. 

After their marriage, Henry and Eliza had gone to 
Cincinnati, where both of them took work in Lane Theologi- 
cal Seminary, a Presbyterian institution, of which the famed 



118 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Dr. Lyman Beecher was then president. There they re- 
mained for two years. Eliza took in boarders at three dollars 
a week for both board and room. Henry worked in a printing 
shop and elsewhere. They were thus enabled to earn enough 
to pay their expenses. From a Spalding letter still extant, 
we learn that Eliza studied both Greek and Hebrew at Lane, 
and even took some courses in theology under Dr. Beecher. 6 
She was unusually well educated for a young woman of her 
generation. 

Spalding was a man of strong physique, of unquestioned 
devotion to the Christian cause, and of great versatility and 
energy. He was a man of many talents. In one of the letters 
of recommendation sent to the Board concerning him, we 
read: "Few men are willing to labor more abundantly or 
endure more fatigue, or make greater sacrifices than he." 7 
On the other hand, Spalding was inclined to be censorious 
and critical of those who did not agree with him. The fact 
of his having been born out of wedlock was a greater stigma 
in his generation than in ours. Because of this he was sen- 
sitive, and it probably was an important factor in the in- 
feriority complex which he often unquestionably displayed. 
Spalding was an individualist who did his best work alone. 
Both Henry and Eliza were admirably qualified by tempera- 
ment and training to be missionaries to the Indians. 

Hoping to secure a position under the Government as 
a teacher among the Choctaw Indians, Henry had decided 
to leave the seminary in May, 1835. He thus had completed 
two years of seminary work, and lacked a year for gradua- 
tion. He and his wife returned to New York State to bid 
their relatives and friends goodbye. After a visit at Holland 
Patent, they went to Prattsburg. There Spalding learned of 
the failure of his appointment by the Government, so on 
August 7, 1835, he sent in his application to the American 
Board. He and his wife were accepted and appointed to a 
station among the Osage Indians, but because of the birth 
of their child in October, they had been unable to leave that 
fall. 

We are not certain whether or not Whitman had the 
opportunity for a personal conference with Spalding in 
regard to the Oregon mission prior to February 14. In a 
footnote to his journal, mailed December 17, 1835, Whitman 
speaks about having received a letter from Spalding the day 



6 Spalding letter, Mar. 31, 1834, Presbyterian Historical Society. 

7 Bullard to American Board, Aug. 14, 1835. 



WHITMAN IS MARRIED 119 

before. Spalding wrote to the Board on December 28 from 
Holland Patent, New York, where his wife's parents lived. 
Yet there are records which indicate that Spalding served 
as temporary supply minister for the near-by churches of 
Cohocton and Tyrone during the fall and winter of 1835-36, 
so it is possible that Whitman saw Spalding in regard to 
the matter. 8 

In view of an impetuous remark that Spalding made 
about Narcissa, evidently before February 14, it seems that 
Spalding had discussed with some of his friends the possi- 
bility of going to Oregon. The fact that he was once a suitor 
for Narcissa's hand created some embarrassment in his own 
mind. His first reaction to the proposal of going with the 
Whitmans to the same mission seems to have been negative. 
Yet, in Spalding's letter of December 28, 1835, to Greene, 
he asked: "If the Board and Dr. Whitman wish me to go to 
the Rocky Mountains with him, I am willing. Act your 
pleasure." Greene replied on January 2, and, not knowing 
that the Spalding child had died, wrote : "It does not seem to 
me desirable that yr designation should be changed to the 
Rocky Mountain Indians at this time unless you strongly 
desire it." From this it appears that Spalding had discussed 
the possibility of changing his destination sometime during 
December. 

The following quotations tell the story of the far-reaching 
consequences of a few words lightly spoken. 

Spalding's diary, July 9, 1840 : That the root of all the difficulties 
in the Mission lay between us, viz : in an expression I made while in the 
states respecting his wife before she was married to Dr. Whitman, 
Viz.: that I would not go into the same Mission with her, questioning 
her judgment. 

(Rev. A. B. Smith to Greene, Sept. 3, 1840) Mr. Spalding had 
published from town to town before he left the States that he would 
not go on a mission with Mrs. Whitman. 

(W. H. Gray to Greene, Oct. 14, 1840) Dr. Whitman stated that 
he thought, or believed, that the whole difficulty originated between 
him and Mr. Spalding before they left the United States. ... He said 
that the difficulty was between Mr. Spalding and his wife. Mr. Spald- 
ing had said more publicly that it would be for him to repeat it hear 
That he (Mr. Spalding) would not come on a mission with Mrs. 
Whitman. He felt he had been injured by Mr. Spalding by the reports 
he had circulated from town to town in the United States. 



8 Minutes of the Presbyterian General Assembly for 1836 and 
1837, pp. 325 and 537. Just why Spalding's name should appear in the 
1837 record as supply pastor for Tyrone is not clear, for Spalding left 
for the West on February 12, 1836. When Spalding wrote to Greene 
on Dec. 28, 1835, he referred to some visits he had made to churches 
in the vicinity of Bath. 



120 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

We know that when the Spaldings left Holland Patent 
on February 1, 1835, they never dreamed that their destina- 
tion would be changed at that late date. They drove in their 
light wagon, a gift from Captain Levi Hart, to Prattsburg, 
where they remained about a week. On the 12th of February 
they started for Howard, New York. According to Spalding, 
Whitman overtook them on the road shortly before they 
reached Howard with the hail : "We want you for Oregon." 

We do not know with certainty that Whitman was aware 
of Spalding's foolish remark about Narcissa's judgment 
when he besought Spalding to go with him to Oregon. If 
he was, the urgency of the occasion made him overlook the 
statement. Whitman wanted missionaries, and the Spald- 
ings were the last and only possible companions. He either 
had to persuade them to go with him to Oregon or give up 
the mission. 

Whitman continued with the Spauldings into Howard, 
where the Spaldings engaged a room in the inn. Whitman 
was importunate. He quickly reviewed the course of events 
and showed how "the finger of Providence" had pointed to 
them. He spoke of the superior qualifications of the Oregon 
Indians, who had asked for the Gospel, in comparison with 
the Osages, who were then considered to be among the most 
decadent of all American tribes. He showed them Greene's 
letter the way was clear if they were willing. If Whitman 
knew that there had been a love affair between Henry and 
Narcissa, it seems that he was quite willing to let bygones 
be bygones. 

The argument of duty, which Whitman stressed, struck 
a responsive chord in the hearts of both Henry and Eliza. 
They were not afraid of the journey, having been satisfied 
by Whitman that it was feasible for women. Henry was a 
little hesitant, because he felt his wife would not be physi- 
cally strong enough to endure the trip, but Eliza pluckily 
declared: "I like the command just as it stands, 'Go ye into 
all the world/ and no , exceptions for poor health." 10 The 
three sought God's guidance by taking turns praying alone 
in a room at the inn. It was then decided, contingent upon 
the final approval of the Board, that the Spaldings would go 
with the Whitmans. 

Both Whitman and Spalding agreed to write to Greene 
about the new developments and ask for his decision, which 



9 U. S. Senate Document No. 37, p. 9. 

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120 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

We know that when the Spaldings left Holland Patent 
on February 1, 1835, they never dreamed that their destina- 
tion would be changed at that late date. They drove in their 
light wagon, a gift from Captain Levi Hart, to Prattsburg, 
where they remained about a week. On the 12th of February 
they started for Howard, New York. According to Spalding. 
Whitman overtook them on the road shortly before they 
reached Howard with the hail : "We want you for Oregon."" 

We do not know with certainty that Whitman was aware 
of Spalding's foolish remark about Narcissa's judgment 
when he besought Spalding to go with him to Oregon. If 
he was, the urgency of the occasion made him overlook the 
statement. Whitman wanted missionaries, and the Spald- 
ings were the last and only possible companions. He either 
had to persuade them to go with him to Oregon or give up 
the mission. 

Whitman continued with the Spauldings into Howard, 
where the Spaldings engaged a room in the inn. Whitman 
was importunate. He quickly reviewed the course of events 
and showed how "the finger of Providence" had pointed to 
them. He spoke of the superior qualifications of the Oregon 
Indians, who had asked for the Gospel, in comparison with 
the Osages, who were then considered to be among the moat 
decadent of all American tribes. He showed them Greene's 
letter the way was clear if they were willing. If Whitman 
knew that there had been a love affair between Henry and 
Narcissa, it seems that he was quite willing to let bygones 
be bygones. 

The argument of duty, which Whitman stressed, struck 
a responsive chord in the hearts of both Henry and Eliza. 
They were not afraid of the journey, having been satisfied 
by Whitman that it was feasible for women. Henry was a 
little hesitant, because he felt his wife would not be physi- 
cally strong enough to endure the trip, but Eliza pluckily 
declared: "I like the command just as it stands, 'Go ye into 
all the world,' and no exceptions for poor health." 10 The 
three sought God's guidance by taking turns praying alone 
in a room at the inn. It was then decided, contingent upon 
the final approval of the Board, that the Spaldings would go 
with the Whitmans. 

Both Whitman and Spalding agreed to write to Greene 
about the new developments and ask for his decision, which 



U. S. Senate Document No. 37, p. 9. 




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WHITMAN IS MARRIED 121 

could reach them at Cincinnati. The Spaldings were to con- 
tinue their journey and wait at Cincinnati for the Whitmans. 
Their route took them through Jamestown, and from that 
place Spalding addressed his letter to Greene on Wednesday, 
February 17. 

From a statement in Mrs. Whitman's letter to her 
father, written October 10, 1840, it appears that Judge 
Prentiss had an interview with Spalding regarding the ad- 
visability of both couples going to the same station. This 
conference may have taken place after the Howard meet- 
ing, for the natural route for the Spaldings to have taken 
from Howard to Jamestown would have gone through 
Angelica. Narcissa wrote : "This pretended settlement with 
father, before we started, was only an excuse, and from all 
we have seen and heard, both during the journey and since 
we have been here, the same bitter feeling exists." This we 
know the antagonism which existed between Henry Spald- 
ing and Narcissa Prentiss had important consequences in 
Old Oregon. 

NARCISSA AND MARCUS ARE MARRIED 

Marcus Whitman must have breathed a sigh of relief 
as he mounted his horse at Howard and started for Angelica, 
about twenty-five miles to the westward, to tell Narcissa. 
With a little haste plans could still be made for their mar- 
riage. What a bridal tour lay before them ! A trip to Oregon ! 

It so happened that Judge Stephen Prentiss and two 
other elders-elect were to be ordained to the office of elder 
at a congregational meeting to be held in the Angelica Pres- 
byterian church on Thursday evening, February 18. Proper 
notice of such a meeting had been given by the pastor, the 
Rev. Leverett Hull, at the Sunday services on February 14. 
Thus when Marcus arrived at the Prentiss home and tri- 
umphantly announced that he had secured the consent of the 
Spaldings to go with them, someone suggested that the mar- 
riage take place at the church when Judge Prentiss would be 
ordained as an elder. It was an opportune time, for all of 
their Angelica friends would be there. Marcus would have 
time to go to Rushville and return, bringing with him those 
of his family who could attend. 

Marcus Whitman rarely traveled on Sunday, and then 
only when stern necessity overruled his religious convic- 
tions. Since Whitman was writing a letter at five o'clock in 
the afternoon of Monday, February 15, from Canandaigua 



122 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

to Greene, and since Canandaigua is about seventy miles 
from Angelica, we are forced to the conclusion that Whitman 
left Angelica on Sunday, or very early Monday morning. 
In this letter we read : 

I saw Mr. Spalding on his way to the Ossages. He consented to 
accompany me if the Board saw fit to alter his designation. ... I am 
willing to accompany Mr. Spalding as an associate yet I know little of 
his peculiar addaptedness to that station. 

Still on the search for more workers, Whitman had visited 
Canandaigua to see Samuel Hotchkin, a son of the Rev. James 
H. Hotchkin, with the hope of securing his services as a lay 
assistant. Hotchkin expressed a willingness to go under 
certain conditions, but time proved too short to make the 
necessary arrangements. Whitman with Richard, the Nez 
Perce boy who had been attending school in Rushville, was 
back in Angelica on or before Thursday the 18th. 11 We are 
not told whether his mother or any other relative or friend 
returned with him. 

In the meantime, Narcissa, with the help of many of the 
women of the Angelica church, was busy with her trousseau. 
Her wedding dress was made of black bombazine. 12 She 
had made several brightly colored print dresses, believing 
that the bright colors would please the Indians. 13 In those 
days locks of hair were greatly treasured. On her wedding 
day, Narcissa clipped a lock of hair and gave it to one of her 
dear friends, Harriet Whitcomb Russell. 14 

The minute book of the Angelica church gives us the 
story of what happened before the wedding took place in 
the following record : 

The church met agreeably to previous notice for the ordination 
of Elders elect, when the following individuals were set apart to this 
office in due form and order to wit Stephen Prentiss, Jacob Schoonver, 
and Charles Patrick, and session ordered a letter to our sister Narcissa 
Prentiss who is destined to the Mission beyond the Rocky Mountains. 
Adjourned closed with prayer. L. Hull Moderator. 

There is the picture, first of the ordination of the three 



11 In Mrs. Whitman's letter (No. 23), mention is made of Richard 
as "the one you saw at our wedding: he calls me Mother." 

12 Letter of Matilda Sager Delaney to Mrs. Bowden, March 26, 1928, 
copy, Coll. Wn. : "I never saw her in a gray silk nor any other colored 
silk had no use for silk her best dress was a black bombazine it 
was her wedding dress and her whole family wore black at her 
wedding." 

13 The author heard of two persons in the vicinity of Rushville who 
still had bits of these print goods. 

14 Given to her daughter, Mrs. Harriet Nobles, who in turn gave it 
to Mrs. Dudley Voorhees. A part is now in Coll. Wn. 



WHITMAN IS MARRIED 123 

men as elders, and then of the session meeting which fol- 
lowed in the presence of the congregation, when Stephen 
Prentiss sat as an elder and voted with the others to give 
"Narcissa Prentiss" a letter of dismissal. In one of Nar- 
cissa's letters she refers to the communion service which was 
held that evening. [Letter 44.] Judge Prentiss for the first 
time in his experience would then have assisted in the serv- 
ing of the elements to the members of the congregation. 
Perhaps he was given the privilege of passing the bread to 
Marcus and Narcissa. According to the custom of the time, 
they drank from the common cup served by the pastor, 
Lever ett Hull.. 

Then followed the wedding, when through the exchange 
of vows Marcus and Narcissa were made one. A short court- 
ship had reached its joyful fruition. Sometime during the 
evening Mr. Hull preached a sermon. According to the 
custom of that day, it is possible that the sermon came after 
the wedding with the bridal couple still standing before the 
altar. Of that sermon Narcissa later wrote: 

Brother Hull, you know not how much good that sermon I heard 
you preach for the last, the which you gave me, does me now in this 
desert land. O that I had more than one! I read it, meditate upon it 
in my solitary hours until the truth of it burns upon my heart and 
cheers my soul with its blessed promise. [Letter 37.] 

As the closing number of the evening's program, Mr. 
Hull announced the hymn, "Yes, My Native Land! I Love 
Thee," which was written by the Rev. Samuel F. Smith, 15 the 
author of "America." The hymn was sentimental, but ap- 
propriate for the occasion. The first three stanzas are as 
follows : 

Yes, my native land ! I love thee ; 

All thy scenes I love them well ; 

Friends, connections, happy country, 

Can I bid you all farewell? 

Can I leave you, 

Far in heathen lands to dwell? 

Home! thy joys are passing lovely 

Joys no stranger-heart can tell; 

Happy home ! 'tis sure I love thee ! 

Can I can I say Farewell? 

Can I leave thee, 

Far in heathen lands to dwell? 



15 Samuel F. Smith, A.B. Harvard, 1829, graduated from the 
Andover Theo. Sem. in 1832. Several tunes have been associated with 
this hymn, including Newton, Wellwood, Smyrna, Latter Day, and 
Greenville. 



124 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Scenes of sacred peace and pleasure, 

Holy days and Sabbath-bell, 

Richest, brightest, sweetest treasure ! 

Can I say a last farewell? 

Can I leave you, 

Far in heathen lands to dwell? 

One by one the members of the choir and congregation 
found their throats constricted with emotion and their cheeks 
dampened with tears. Only a few, including Narcissa, sang 
the fourth stanza : 

Yes! I hasten gladly, 

From the scenes I love so well; 

Far away, ye billows! bear me; 

Lovely native land! farewell! 

Pleased I leave thee, 

Far in heathen lands to dwell. 

By the time the last stanza was reached, muffled sobs 
could be heard. Narcissa in her clear soprano voice, which 
Wakeman described as being "as sweet and musical as a 
chime of bells," sang the last stanza alone : 

In the deserts let me labor, 

On the mountains let me tell, 

How he died the blessed Saviour 

To redeem a world from hell ! 

Let me hasten, 

Far in heathen lands to dwell. 16 [Letter 37.] 

The next day Marcus and Narcissa left for Ithaca. Im- 
agination alone must supply the details of the last farewell. 
Many of their Angelica friends were filled with fears as they 
saw the Whitmans leave. Narcissa asked for their prayers. 
Later she wrote to the Hulls : "I told you and Brother Bridg- 
man that if we ever got over the mountains it would be in 
answer to your prayers." [Letter 37.] Narcissa, like Mrs. 
Spalding, never returned. Both Dr. Whitman and Mr. 
Spalding subsequently visited their homes in the East, 



16 Winchell's Additional Hymns, 1832, concluded the hymn with a 
sixth verse: "Bear me on thou restless ocean, Let the winds my 
canvas swell. Heave my heart with warm emotion, While I far hence 
do dwell. Glad I bid thee, Native land, Farewell, Farewell." Whitman 
letters 19 and 44 both refer to the marriage date as Feb. 18. Bashford, 
Oregon, p. 234, erroneously gives it as Feb. 7. Eells, Marcus Whitman, 
p. 30, gives a picture of the Prattsburg church and Franklin Academy 
and states that the Whitmans were married there another error. 
The Angelica building burned in 1868. No public records of marriages 
were kept in New York State prior to January 1, 1886. The incident 
of the hymn is mentioned in Golden Rule, Jan. 12, 1893. There are 
people living in Angelica who heard the story from their grandparents. 



WHITMAN IS MARRIED 125 

Whitman in the spring of 1843 and Spalding in the winter 
of 1870-71. 

From a reference in one of Mrs. Whitman's letters, 
[Letter 35] we know that the Whitmans spent a Sunday in 
Ithaca, perhaps February 21. Narcissa appeared before 
the Sunday school of the Presbyterian church there and 
promised to send back from Oregon an account of her 
experiences, which promise she kept. Dr. Samuel Parker 
wrote of this visit to Ithaca as follows : 

Dr. Whitman made addresses in the churches; and Mrs. Whitman 
in the Sunday Schools, especially the Presby. and the Dutch Reformed 
Churches. 17 

After spending a few days in Ithaca, the Whitmans 
went to Rushville, taking the Nez Perce boys with them. 
There is a record of their stopping en route at Geneva, New 
York, where Dr. Whitman spoke in the Presbyterian church 
on the subject of Oregon missions. 18 Sunday, the 28th, was 
spent at Rushville. But few references to the events of those 
last days in New York State are to be found in the Whitman 
correspondence. In one letter Narcissa speaks of having 
had a pair of "gentlemen's boots" made for her in "Brother 
Augustus' shoe store in Rushville." [Letter 21.] Marcus also 
provided himself with footwear at the same time. The 
women of the Rushville church presented Marcus with some 
shirts, which Marcus was later tempted to leave behind as 
surplus baggage. Narcissa, however, persuaded him to keep 
them. [Letter 26.] 

In Whitman's letter of March 3, written the day they left 
Rushville, he reported the receipt of $26 from the Angelica 
church and $200.07 from the Rushville church. He wished 
due credit to be given for these gifts. In addition he drew 
upon the Treasurer of the Board for $126 and wrote that he 
would need more when he got to Cincinnati. [Letter 19.] 
According to the financial report submitted to the Board on 
September 5, 1836, 19 Whitman had $166.96 when he reached 
Cincinnati, which means that the cost to the Board for 
traveling expenses for himself, his wife, and the two Indian 
boys from Rushville to that point was but $185.11. This cov- 
ered a period from March 3 to March 18, and probably in- 
cluded the cost of some supplies. 



17 Parker MS., Cornell University. 

18 Centennial Celebration, p. 42. See also Whitman letter 19 for 
another reference to the Geneva visit. 

19 Coll. A. 



126 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

The Whitmans said their farewells on March 3 and 
started for Cincinnati. At Elmira, Whitman engaged a man 
by the name of J. S. Seeley to drive them in his sleigh to 
Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. Fifty-nine years later, in 
1895, Seeley, then living at Aurora, Illinois, wrote to Dr. 
Oliver W. Nixon, who was then writing his book How Marcus 
Whitman Saved Oregon, saying : 

I drove Dr. and Mrs. Whitman from Elmira, N. Y., to Hollidays- 
burg, Pa., in my sleigh. This place was at the foot of the Allegheny 
Mountains (east side) on the Pennsylvania canal. The canal boats 
were built in two sections and were taken over the mountains on a 
railroad. 

They expected to find the canal open on the west side and thus 
reach the Ohio River on the way to Oregon. I was with them some 
seven days. 20 

Near Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the Whitmans over- 
took Dr. and Mrs. Benedict Satterlee, who were under ap- 
pointment by the Board to go to the Pawnee Indians. Mrs. 
Satterlee, also a bride, was formerly Miss Martha Ann 
Mather, of Fairfield, where Dr. Satterlee had attended medi- 
cal college. With them was Miss Emeline Palmer who was 
on her way to Liberty, Missouri, where she was to meet her 
fiance, Samuel Allis. This party of three had left Ithaca on 
Tuesday, March 1. However, because of the ill-health of 
Mrs. Satterlee, they were delayed in their journey, so that 
the Whitmans overtook them. The party of seven rested 
at Williamsport over Sunday, March 6. Dr. Whitman and 
Dr. Satterlee held a consultation over Mrs. Satterlee. They 
debated whether or not she could proceed, and finally agreed 
that she could. They had fine sleighing to Hollidaysburg. 
[Letter 22.] 

They reached Pittsburgh on Saturday, March 12. The 
next day Marcus and the two Indian boys went to a church, 
where the Nez Perces created somewhat of a sensation 
when their identity was made known. Narcissa suffered 
from a severe headache, so remained in her room. [Letter 
20.] The party secured passage on the steamboat Siam, 
which left Pittsburgh 10 :00 A. M., Tuesday morning, March 
15. 



20 P. 67. See also Nixon's Whitman's Ride Through Savage Lands 
(1905), p. 44: "The late Eli G. Coe of Illinois then a young man drove 
them in his sleigh to the mountains en route for Pittsburgh where they 
were to take the boat for St. Louis." It is hard to reconcile these two 
accounts. Perhaps Nixon relied on memory and got the name of the 
man confused with another. Perhaps there were two men, or two 
sections of the journey. The earlier account is to be preferred because 
there Nixon quotes from a letter. 



WHITMAN IS MARRIED 127 

THEIR PERSONAL APPEARANCE 

No authentic picture remains of either Narcissa or 
Marcus. However, we do have several good descriptions of 
their personal appearance which date back to the time of 
their marriage and even before. Joel Wakeman described 
Narcissa as follows : - 

She was of medium height, symmetrically formed, very graceful in 
her deportment and general carriage, slightly sandy complexion, a 
brilliant, sparkling eye, peculiarly so when engaged in animated con- 
versation. She was not a beauty, and yet, when engaged in singing 
or conversation there was something in her appearance very attrac- 
tive. 21 

The Rev. Levi Fay Waldo, who also knew Narcissa, 
wrote of her : 

She was a beautiful blonde, of fair form and face and well rounded 
features, dignified and stately, yet modest in her bearing, kindly and 
Christian in social life, honoring and gracing every station that she 
was called to fill. 22 

The people of Rushville remembered the bride of Marcus 
Whitman as being "of slight build, a little above medium 
height, blue eyes, pretty, with beautiful blond hair." 23 Nar- 
cissa weighed herself a few weeks after her marriage and 
informed her sister Jane that the scales tipped at 136 pounds. 
[Letter 21.] On October 9, 1844, in a letter to her parents 
she declared that she then weighed about 150 pounds, "much 
higher than ever before in my life." 24 

Several attempts have been made to produce a portrait 
of Narcissa. Probably the best known of these idealized 
pictures is the oil painting by Mrs. Orville R. Allen which 
hangs in Prentiss Hall at Whitman College. This is a life- 
sized study which shows her clad in a gray silk dress with 
flowing sleeves and a low neck. The artist was guided by 
some hazy tradition that she wore such a dress and "fluffed 
her hair" once when about to greet her husband upon his 
return from a trip to the mountains. 25 According to Matilda 

21 Wakeman, Prattsburg News, Jan. 27, 1898. On Sept. 29, 1838, 
Narcissa wrote: "Please tell me what has become of Joel Wakeman. 
Has he given up to be a missionary?" 

2 2 Waldo, W.C.Q., Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 39. 

23 Told to the author by Mrs. Abram, of Rushville, who remembered 
the description given by her mother. Another said her eyes were gray. 
O.H.Q., Vol. 2, p. 266. 

2 * W.C.Q., Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 20. 

25 From clipping of Times S^t,n, May 8, 1927, loaned by Mrs. Ross, 
of Portland. This idealized picture was dedicated May 16, 1927. 



128 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Sager Delaney, who spent several years in the Whitman 
mission home, Mrs. Whitman never had a silk dress. The 
sleeves used for a model for the picture are authentic, for 
they once belonged to Narcissa. 26 Mrs. Delaney wrote : 

. . . Mrs. Whitman was so severe both in dress and in the way she 
dressed her hair. She had a reddish colored hair parted in the middle 
and combed back and twisted in a knot and wore a high backed comb. 
Most of her dresses had either gathered or pleated pointed waist and 
had collar like in picture or a fancy neckerchief never had her bare 
neck exposed the flowing sleeves with undersleeves and a coat heavier 
for winter and the old mutton leg sleeves. 27 

When Nixon issued his How Marcus Whitman Saved 
Oregon he included an idealized picture of both Narcissa 
and Marcus. This book first appeared in 1895 and it was 
so popular that a fifth edition appeared the following year. 
Nixon wrote to the Rev. S. W. Pratt on March 8, 1898, stat- 
ing that a sixth edition was then being prepared and that 
the largest of previous editions had numbered 3,800 copies. 28 
The book was written in the month of April, 1895, and Nixon 
frankly confessed that it was not intended to be an authentic 
Whitman biography. 

The first and second editions give the idealized pictures 
without any word of explanation of how they were made 
or by whom. It is quite evident that many wrote to Nixon 
criticizing the pictures, for the third edition included differ- 
ent conceptions with some of the most apparent anachro- 
nisms, especially in regard to Dr. Whitman, removed. In this 
third edition, Nixon inserted the following statement under 
the new picture of Mrs. Whitman : 

No authentic picture of Mrs. Whitman is in existence. This portrait 
of her has been drawn under the supervision of a gentleman familiar 
with her appearance and with suggestions from members of her 
family. It is considered a good likeness of her. 

In the March, 1898, issue of the Whitman College Quar- 
terly is an article by Waldo, who remembered Mrs. Whitman. 
He makes the following statement regarding Nixon's picture 
of Mrs. Whitman, although he does not state which edition 
he used : "It is much to be regretted that no likeness of her 
can be found, for the one in Dr. Nixon's book, though bearing 



26 Mrs. Edmund Bowden, of Seattle, had the pair, one of which she 
presented to Whitman College. 

27 Delaney to Bowden, March 26, 1928. 

28 Original in Coll. Wn. 



WHITMAN IS MARRIED 129 

some resemblance, is far from doing her justice." 29 The 
Whitman College collection .contains a letter from Nixon 
to the Rev. Myron Eells which was evidently written shortly 
after the first edition of his book appeared. In this letter 
Nixon wrote : 

I find also the janitor of his home church is living at Baraboo, 
Wis & sends me word that he is delighted with the book & that 
after our laborious work that "the picture of Whitman upon his mar- 
riage day is good." As you know all these pictures were composite & 
under the manipulation of the best artists have been going the rounds 
of all that knew the Dr & his wife for criticism & change. The picture 
of Mrs. Whitman her sister has mainly directed & says "it is entirely 
satisfactory to herself & family." 30 

From this it appears that the picture of Narcissa which 
appeared in the third edition of Nixon's book represents the 
final criticism of those who knew her, including Mrs. Har- 
riet Jackson, Narcissa's youngest sister, who was then living 
at Oberlin, Ohio. This conception bears a striking family 
resemblance to the pictures of Harriet and to her older 
brother, Harvey Pratt Prentiss. It represents the best en- 
deavor to present Narcissa's personal appearance. 31 

Nixon's first idealized portrait of Dr. Whitman had him 
clothed in the ministerial garb of 1870. The retouched pic- 
ture which appeared in his third edition corrected this ap- 
parent anachronism, yet left the type of beard, known as 
burnsides, which were unknown in 1836. Under this second 
picture, Nixon gave the following information : 

No picture of Dr. Whitman is in existence. The above portrait 
is made from the basis of a photograph of Rev. Marcus Whitman 
Montgomery, who resembled Dr. Whitman very closely. Changes have 
been made under the supervision of the family, who now pronounce 
this a very correct likeness. 

A redrawing of this picture appeared in Miller's Pres- 
byterianism in Steuben and Allegany 32 which came to the 



29 P. 39. The fifth edition of Nixon's book does not have the picture 
of Mrs. Whitman. The author was unable to locate the 4th or 6th 
editions. 

30 Dated Mar. 4, 189 Exact year not given, but undoubtedly 

1896. 

31 Other descriptions of Mrs. Whitman can be found in Gray, 
Oregon, p. 109, and elsewhere. Locks of her hair are to be found in 
Collections, 0., W., Wn., and in the Ferry Museum, Tacoma, Wash. 
Several locks are still in private possession. These show that her hair 
had an auburn tinge. 

32 P. 48. The author called on Dr. Miller, pastor of the Presbyterian 
church, Huntsville, Ohio, in the summer of 1935. 



130 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

attention of the Rev. Joel Wakeman who wrote an article 
which was published in the February 3, 1898, issue of the 
Prattsburg News. Wakeman wrote : 

The picture in the "History of Presbyterianism" is a misnomer; 
there are only a few points of resemblance. The eyebrows, the manner 
of parting his hair, and the outline of the upper part of his face; 
otherwise there is nothing that really belonged to Whitman. 

Wakeman gave the following description of Dr. 
Whitman : 

His stature was medium, compactly built, well proportioned, mus- 
cular, but not fleshly, a finely formed head, and according to phreno- 
logical science, large veneration, benevolence and combativeness, which 
manifested itself in his firmness and strict adherence to principle; a 
bright, penetrating eye that seldom failed to read human character 
correctly, an aquiline nose, a benignant expressive countenance, 
moderately social, not a rapid talker, and what he said, sensible and 
to the point. . . . 33 

Phrenology was much in vogue in Wakeman's day, es- 
pecially when he was younger than when he wrote this 
description. An undated clipping from the Corning, N. Y., 
Leader 3 * comments on a picture of Samuel Whitman, the 
brother of Marcus, as follows : 

There was a marked family resemblance, and the picture shows 
how Dr. Whitman would have looked had he lived to an old age. He 
had a larger head and overhanging eye brows, and a strong chin, and 
high cheek bones as described by those who knew him. 

A lock of hair given by Dr. Whitman to his sister when 
he was East in the spring of 1843, now in the museum of 
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington, shows that he 
had brown hair. 35 It is supposed, therefore, that he had 
dark eyes. 

Another good description is that of B. F. Nichols, who 
as a lad eighteen years old spent a winter at the Whitman 
station. He wrote : 

I think he was a man that would weigh one hundred and seventy- 
five pounds, being what we would call a raw-boned man. He was 
muscular and sinewy, with broad shoulders, neck slightly bent forward 
and firm set limbs. His eyes were blue, rather dark, I think; his hair 
was brown, his forehead massive and broad, and his nose, though not 
large, was straight and prominent. His cheekbones were high and 



33 Original MS. in Coll. Wn. 

34 Coll. Wn. Believed to be from the Corning, N. Y., paper, 1905. 

35 Locks of hair were frequently carried in jewelry made especially 
to keep them ; thus the name locket. 



WHITMAN IS MARRIED 131 

prominent, and his mouth was nearer like General Grant's than any 
one else I know of, denoting firmness and determination. 

As an illustration of the Doctor's strength I might mention that 
on one occasion I was sitting on the rails of a corral where they had a 
lot of wild young cattle that they wanted to brand. The Doctor walked 
into the corral amidst the young steers, many of them three-year-olds, 
and moved around till he got a favorable opportunity, when he caught 
one by the under jaw and the near horn. He made it jump around and 
when its feet were off the ground he gave it a sudden wrench, throwing 
it upon its back on the ground, where he held it until it was branded. 
He did this time and again, and we were amazed at the strength which 
he displayed on this and similar occasions. He was one of the most 
unassuming men I ever met. 36 



i 



'Bulldogging" steers is still practiced in Western rodeos 
and indicates skill as well as strength. 

Pictures of all three of Whitman's brothers, Augustus, 
Samuel, and Henry, together with one of his sister, Alice, 
have been found. While the pictures of Augustus and of 
Samuel were taken in their old age, the picture of Henry was 
taken about 1847 and perhaps represents the nearest likeness 
to Marcus that we will ever find. On May 23, 1936, a daguer- 
reotype of Whitman's mother was identified by Mrs. Marion 
B. Foote Williams, who was born at Rushville on May 
24, 1835. Mrs. Williams, who possessed a keen active mind 
even though she was 101 years old, looked at the daguer- 
reotype and said: "That's Mrs. Loomis. I used to go to 
church with her." Since Mrs. Williams was twenty-two 
years old when Mrs. Loomis died, it is reasonable to believe 
that her identification is correct. 37 

Mary Alice Wisewell, the daughter of Whitman's only 
sister, wrote to Myron Eells on March 10, 1882, saying : 

Mother says that Uncle Marcus never had a picture taken except 
a profile for his wife that he told by sending to R. K. Cummings 
Boston she [.i.e. Whitman's mother] could get one like it. This she 
never did, as the picture was only a black outline, and very unsatis- 
factory. 38 

All efforts to locate one of these silhouettes have failed. 
An idealized portrait of Dr. Whitman was recently 



86 W.C.Q., Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 19. 

37 The daguerreotype is owned by Charles Fox, of Rushville, a 
grandson of Henry, the brother of Marcus Whitman. The picture was 
taken about 1847 at the same time as that of Henry and his son. The 
identity of the picture was unknown until Mrs. Williams said it 
was of Mrs. Loomis. This identification was made in the presence of 
her son, Lewis C. Williams, Robert Moody, of Rushville, and the 
author. She died on July 11, 1936. 

as Coll. Wn. 



132 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

painted by Ernest Ralph Norling and presented by a group 
of physicians and surgeons of the Pacific Northwest to 
Whitman College, on Thursday, August 13, 1936, at the 
time of the Whitman Centennial celebration. This is a life- 
size study and shows Whitman clad in frontier garb, with 
a beard. It avoids the errors of both of Nixon's pictures as 
far as the anachronisms of dress are concerned. It is prob- 
ably as good an idealized picture of Whitman as ever can be 
secured. 39 

The twelve-foot statue of Marcus Whitman by Alexander 
S. Calder which is on the Witherspoon Building in Phila- 
delphia is said to have been modeled after Perrin, the 
nephew of Dr. Whitman, who bore some resemblance to his 
famous uncle. 

W. H. Gray, who came West with the Whitmans in 1836, 
remembered him as being "above medium height; of spare 
habit; peculiar hair, a portion of each being white and a 
dark brown, so that it might be called iron-grey ; deep blue 
eyes, and a large mouth. 40 Much as we desire an accurate 
picture of both Narcissa and Marcus, we find ourselves 
obliged to be contented with such descriptions as have come 
down to us from the past. 



39 The Journal of the Department of History, Presbyterian Church 
U. S. A., Dec., 1932, printed a supposed picture of Marcus Whitman, 
claimed to be from an "original ambrotype." An ambrotype was a 
transparency on glass. The process was not invented until 1846 and 
was patented in 1855. There is no evidence that it was retaken from 
an earlier picture. 

40 Gray, Oregon, p. 107. 



CHAPTER SEVEN 

THE TRIP TO OREGON 
1836 

THE WHITMANS, the Satterlees, Miss Palmer, and the 
two Indian boys secured passage on the steamboat Siam, 
which left Pittsburgh Tuesday morning, March 15. They 
reached Cincinnati on Thursday noon of that week, where 
they found the Spaldings eagerly awaiting their arrival. 
The day the Whitmans left Pittsburgh, Narcissa began one 
of her journal letters to her loved ones. These letters were 
written with more or less regularity as she journeyed west- 
ward. Sometimes Narcissa made daily entries, and again 
she would summarize the events of a week or more. 

Narcissa's first entry in the first of these journal letters 
is as follows : 

Dear, Dear, Mother: Your proposal concerning keeping a diary 
as I journey comes before my mind often. I have not found it prac- 
ticable while traveling by land, although many events have passed 
which, if noted as they occurred, might have been interesting. We left 
Pittsburg this morning at ten o'clock, and are sailing at the rate of 
thirteen miles an hour. It is delightful passing so rapidly down the 
waters of the beautiful river. The motion of the boat is very agreeable 
to me, except when writing. Our accommodations are good ; we occupy 
a stateroom where we can be as retired as we wish. 

To avoid traveling on Sunday, the missionaries decided 
to remain in Cincinnati until Tuesday, March 22, when 
the Junius was due to leave for St. Louis. Whitman and 
Spalding spent several days purchasing supplies, drawing 
for this purpose upon the treasurer of the American Board 
for two hundred dollars. On Sunday the Whitmans heard 
Dr. Lyman Beecher, then president of the Lane Theological 
Seminary, preach. Narcissa wrote that after their short 
sojourn in the city, they felt strengthened and comforted "as 
we left them, to pursue our journey into the wilderness." 
[Letter 20.] 

The party expected to reach St. Louis before Sunday, but 
Saturday night found them still eighty-nine miles from 
their destination. The boat, as was the custom, was tied up 
at night. The next day the missionaries disembarked at 
their first opportunity, which was at Chester, Illinois. After 



134 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

spending the day with a small group of Christians, they 
were fortunate enough to secure passage on the Majestic 
on Monday morning for St. Louis. Fog delayed them so 
that they did not actually reach their destination until Tues- 
day evening, March 29. 

As soon as possible after their arrival, Dr. Whitman hur- 
ried to the post office for their mail. 1 Whitman received a 
letter from Greene, and Spalding received a communication 
from the United States Secretary of War which gave official 
permission for him and Whitman to establish missions in 
the Indian country. 2 

Narcissa was disappointed in not receiving letters from 
her home. "Why have they not written?" she wrote in her 
journal, "seeing it is the very last, last time they will have 
to cheer my heart with intelligence from home, home, sweet 
home, and the friends I love." A week later she was de- 
lighted to receive a letter at Liberty, Missouri, written by her 
brother-in-law, the Rev. Lyman Judson. That was the only 
letter she received from any member of her family for over 
two years, or until July 11, 1838. [Letter 51.] 

FINAL INSTRUCTIONS 

In response to the letters of both Spalding and Whitman, 
written after their Howard meeting, Greene wrote to the 
former on February 25 and to the latter on the 27th, in 
which full approval was given to the change of destination 
for the Spaldings. 3 Writing to Whitman at St. Louis on 
March 4, 1836, Greene gave some sound advice on a number 
of points. He cautioned them in their relationships with the 
mountain men, and advised them to keep the Sabbath with 
great strictness. "Live near to God," urged Greene in his 
concluding remarks. On the whole, it was a good letter, 
filled with wise and kindly counsel. 

THOMSONIANISM 

While at St. Louis, under date of March 30, 1836, Nar- 
cissa wrote : 



1 The St. Louis Missouri Argus for April 8, 1836, printed a list of 
unclaimed letters at the St. Louis post office on April 1. The list includ- 
ed a letter for "Doct Marcus Whitman" and one for "Rev. Henry H. 
Spalding." It is evident that this list was prepared shortly before 
Whitman called. The next published list does not include their names. 

2 Drury, Spalding, p. 124. 

3 Greene's letter to Spalding is in Coll. W. Many of Greene's let- 
ters to Whitman have been published in Hulbert and Hulbert, Marcus 
Whitman, Crusader. 



THE TRIP TO OREGON 135 

I think I should like to whisper in mother's ear many things which 
I cannot write. If I could only see her in her room for one-half hour. 
This much I can, mother. I have one of the kindest husbands, and the 
very best every way. Tell father by the side of his calomel he has 
taken a quarter of a pound of lobelia and a large quantity of cayenne, 
which will answer my purpose better than some of the apothecary 
medicines. 

The average reader entirely misses the significance of the 
reference here made by Narcissa to lobelia and cayenne 
pepper. But to the student of America's medical history, 
these words stand out like words on a telegram. They are the 
code words for Thomsonianism, a medical cult founded by 
Samuel Thomson 4 in 1808. Thomson, an illiterate New 
Hampshire farmer, built up a system of medicine which 
called for two things. First, the patient was to take lobelia, 
which acted as a powerful emetic. Because of this the regular 
school of doctors called the Thomsonian practitioners "puke- 
doctors." Then the patient was made to perspire. This was 
induced by prescribing "hot-drops" and steam baths. The 
"hot-drops" were prepared by a formula which Thomson 
patented, the principal ingredient of which was cayenne 
pepper. 

Thomson wrote a book entitled Guide to Health or Botanic 
Family Physician in which he prescribed for the symptoms 
for which each of six secret formulas of his were to be used. 
The following quotation regarding cayenne is taken from 
this volume : 

This is a medicine of great value in the practice, and may be safely 
used in all cases of disease, to raise and retain the internal heat of the 
system, cause a free perspiration, and keep the determining powers 
to the surface. . . . 

For a dose, take from half to a teaspoonful, in hot water, or a tea 
of No. 3 sweetened. . . . The dose should be repeated every ten or fifteen 
minutes till the desired object is effected, and continued occasionally 
till health is restored. 5 

Thomson sold his book, together with a diploma, which 
entitled the purchaser to be 'a "Botanic Physician," for 
thirty dollars, and it is reported that a hundred thousand of 
these books and diplomas were sold between 1813 and 1836. 
The book went through nineteen editions. The fad was 
especially popular in central New York. Thomson called the 



4 See article by Dr. Harold M. F. Behneman in California and 
Western Medicine, Vol. 44, No. 2, on Thomsonianism. 

5 P. 80. Many of the facts herein given concerning Thomsonianism 
were supplied by Dr. F. C. Waite. 



136 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

regular doctors "mineral murderers," and especially con- 
demned calomel, then much used. He claimed that all medi- 
cines other than those of vegetable origin were poisonous. 
In view of such claims it is easy to see how a bitter rivalry 
grew up between the "puke-doctors" and the "mineral 
murderers." Lobelia and cayenne pepper were anathema to 
the regular profession. 

This one paragraph in Narcissa's letter in which she 
refers to her lobelia and cayenne, along with her husband's 
calomel, throws a spotlight upon a hitherto unknown fact of 
Narcissa's home life. Her father was a Thomsonian. Nar- 
cissa was a Thomsonian. Yet she had married one of the 
"mineral murderers." Think of Marcus great was his love 
for Narcissa and tolerant was his spirit if he would permit 
her to pack along her lobelia and cayenne pepper. We wonder 
what would have happened to their love affair if they had 
not gone to Oregon, but instead had settled down in some 
New York community. 

ST. LOUIS TO LIBERTY 

The missionaries were in St. Louis from Tuesday eve- 
ning until Thursday noon, when they left on the steamboat 
Chariton for Liberty. During this short visit, the Whitmans 
saw some of the sights of the city and met several old friends, 
including the Rev. Milton Kimball, who took Narcissa to see 
the Roman Catholic cathedral. The building was dedicated 
in 1834 and was one of the attractions of the rapidly grow- 
ing city. It was Narcissa's first contact with Catholicism, 
and she looked upon the people assembled in worship with 
considerable curiosity. 

Writing to her sister Jane, Narcissa described the service 
as "idolatry," and referred to the "nuns" (perhaps a vested 
choir) who sang "in an unknown tongue." The following 
quotations from her letter, here published for the first time, 
reveal the anti-Catholic attitude which was entertained by 
the Whitmans as well as the Spaldings : 

While sitting there and behold their Idolitry, I thot of the "Whited 
Sepulcher which indeed appears beautiful to men but within are full 
of dead mens bones and all uncleanness." . . . What cause of gratitude 
have I that I am not of the number who willfully shut my eyes to the 
truth, deceiving and being deceived. 6 

It should be remembered that the Whitmans and the 



e Whitman letter 21. This was published in the T.O.P.A., 1891, 
pp. 83 ff. but about three hundred words were omitted, which includes 



THE TRIP TO OREGON 137 

Spaldings were reared in a Protestant community where the 
anti-Catholic spirit was especially strong. 

Whitman had vivid memories of the trip between Liberty 
and Bellevue, made the previous year. The heavy rains had 
turned the prairies into a sea of mud. He recalled how he had 
toiled with Merrill's wagon, and how at times he had felt 
obliged to assist the men of the caravan with their wagons. 
Therefore, while at St. Louis, Whitman made every effort to 
arrange for boat transportation as far as Bellevue. He 
called at the offices of the American Fur Company, where 
doubtless the good services he had rendered their men the 
preceding year were recalled. Arrangements were made 
for the members of the mission party to take passage on the 
Chariton, which was to leave on the 31st for Liberty. It was 
agreed that the Diana, then at St. Louis for repairs, would 
follow within several weeks and take the mission party 
from Liberty to Bellevue. 

The Chariton left St. Louis "immediately after dinner" 
on the 31st. At twilight the steamer left the wide sweep of 
the Mississippi and entered the narrower channel of the 
Missouri River. Narcissa wrote of the beautiful evening, 
with the moon shining in all of its brightness. The two new- 
lyweds remained on the upper deck until Spalding, with 
more religion than romance in his soul, called them to eve- 
ning prayers. 

Their boat reached Jefferson City on April 2. Whitman 
pointed out the fact that they were a week earlier at that 
point than he and Parker had been the previous year. On 
Monday, April 4, they saw a steam sawmill on shore which 
Narcissa called "a great curiosity," as it indeed was to her, 
for the mills she had seen in New York State were all run 
by water power. The three-hundred-mile journey from St. 
Louis to Liberty was ended on Thursday, April 7. The mis- 
sionaries disembarked on a raw spring morning with the 
thermometer registering 24 at nine o'clock. 

In her letter to her sister, begun on March 31, Narcissa 
referred to the continued illness of Mrs. Satterlee. Her 
letter is filled with interesting items. She reported that she 
then weighed "136 pounds" and was standing the journey 
very well. "Mrs. Spaulding," she wrote, "does not look nor 
feel quite healthy enough for our enterprise. . . . Sister S 



Narcissa's description of her visit to the cathedral. Mrs. Spalding, who 
visited the cathedral the same day, wrote in a similar strain in her 
diary. 



138 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

is very resolute no shrinking with her. She possesses good 
fortitude. I like her very much, she wears well upon 
acquaintance." 7 

Liberty, Missouri, represented the farthest point west 
of American civilization. It was about halfway between the 
Eastern home of the missionaries and their final destination 
in Old Oregon. Spalding estimated that the distance from 
Prattsburg to Liberty was nineteen hundred miles. Most 
of that distance had been made by water. The most difficult 
part of their journey was before them. Narcissa wrote: 
"The way looks pleasant notwithstanding we are so near 
encountering the difficulties of an unheard of journey for 
females." [Letter 21.] 

On the 19th of the month, while they waited for the boat 
to take them to Bellevue, William Henry Gray unexpectedly 
arrived on the St. Charles and announced that he had been 
appointed by the American Board to the Oregon mission as 
a mechanic. Gray was born in Fairfield, New York, Sep- 
tember 8, 1810, where Whitman had attended the Medical 
College in 1825-26 and in 1831-32. It is possible that the two 
were known to each other, at least by name, for Gray is 
supposed to have resided in Fairfield until the death of his 
father in 1826. Gray was sluggish of mind and therefore 
was called "an extremely dull scholar." 8 It so happened 
that when Whitman was searching frantically for mis- 
sionaries he wrote to the Rev. Chauncey Eddy, of Utica, who 
was acquainted with Gray. Through Eddy's influence the 
Board hastily approved Gray's application and sent him on 
his way to overtake the Whitman-Spalding party if possible. 

The Whitmans and the Spaldings were greatly en- 
couraged with his arrival. Providence, so they thought, had 
smiled on them again. The three men turned their attention 
to the task of assembling their equipment and buying the 
necessary livestock. On September 5, 1836, Whitman, Spald- 
ing, and Gray signed their financial report from which we 
are able to obtain a good idea of the outfit they had deemed 
essential for the overland journey. The report, made out in 
Whitman's handwriting, lists total receipts at $3,273.96, and 
a total expense of $3,063.96. The balance on hand September 
5, 1836, was $210.00. 

Among the cattle were four milch cows and two calves. 



7 Whitman letter 21. This was printed with many discrepancies 
in the T.O.P.A., 1891, pp. 83 ff. 

8 Drury, Spalding, p. 128, gives more information about Gray. 



THE, TRIP TO OREGON 139 

Marcus gave his wife the choice of a horse or a mule to ride. 
Narcissa chose the horse. Richard, who was inclined to 
judge the value of a riding animal in terms of speed, took 
one look at the mule and exclaimed: "That very bad mule, 
can't catch buffalo." [Letter 21.] Sidesaddles were provided 
for the women. 

Spalding's light wagon was reserved for the lighter 
baggage and for the women. This is the wagon which was 
taken, in a reduced form; as far west as Fort Boise, and Dr. 
Whitman usually gets the credit both for owning the wagon 
and for taking it that far west. New information about the 
wagon is to be found in a letter written March 20, 1888, by 
J. S. Griffin to the Rev. Myron Eells, from which the follow- 
ing is taken : 

Touching the question of wagons from the East to this coast 1 

will say, that on the 5th day of July, 1835 in the town of Holland 
Patent (I think that was the place) in the state of N. Y. I worked 
with H. H. Spalding on the barn floor of his father-in-law a Mr. Hart, 
in putting the top on a small wagon, in which he was soon to leave 
for the west to engage in Indian Mission. He started with his wife in 
that wagon, first plan was for the Choctaws . . . sufficient to say the 
wagon came west as far as the H. Bay Go's station at Boisie ; & in the 
summer of '40 (the wagon having come through in '36) I saw the man 
at that Fort hauling adobies on that wagon. That was the first wagon 
that came that far Westward. 9 

Narcissa wrote, saying that the light wagon had no 
spring seats, but that they found it quite comfortable to sit 
on the baggage. [Letter 26.] The missionaries secured a 
heavy farm wagon for some of this baggage. They did not 
plan to take along food supplies for the entire trip but fol- 
lowed the plan of the men of the caravan and took only 
enough to enable them to reach the buffalo range. 

Whitman found that the cost of the trip was mounting to 
more than he had expected. Writing to Greene on May 5, he 
declared: "Our expenses have been much worse than I ex- 
pected; horses and cattle are much higher than last year." 
Their livestock alone cost over $1000. This was a large item, 
and yet in the light of later events, it was a wise expenditure. 
After deducting this item, the total cost of taking the five 



9 Original, Coll. W. See also Perrin Whitman's statement about the 
wagon in W.C.Q., Vol. 2, p. 36. Perrin wrote : "It had been one of the 
old fashioned Deerborn wagons, with wooden springs from one axle to 
the other made out of hard wood. . . . The bed was of a dark brown 
color, and the wheels were yellow with blue strips. It was a light two 
horse wagon." By an interesting coincidence the college colors of 
Whitman College are yellow and blue. 



140 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

missionaries from their homes in the east to Fort Walla 
Walla was about $1800, or about $360 a person. That sum 
included all moneys spent for transportation, clothing, medi- 
cines, Indian goods, and incidentals. The time involved was 
about six and a half months, for the financial report was 
rendered on September 5, 1836. The missionaries received 
no salaries, but were content with the assurance that the 
Board would pay their necessary expenses. Nothing was said 
about special allowances for children, or for furloughs, or 
for retirement pensions. 

Whitman and Spalding hired a young man by the name 
of Dulin to assist them, and also secured the services of an- 
other Nez Perce boy whom they called Samuel Temoni. After 
they had started, a red-headed, nineteen-year-old lad from 
New Haven, Connecticut, attached himself to the party. His 
name was Miles Goodyear. 10 Thus the party grew to ten 
five missionaries, three Nez Perces, and two hired men. 
Dulin left the party at the rendezvous, but Goodyear con- 
tinued until they reached Fort Hall. 

On Thursday, April 21, Samuel Allis arrived at Liberty, 
coming down the river by boat from Bellevue. On the Sat- 
urday following he was married to Miss Emeline Palmer, 
the Rev. H. H. Spalding officiating. 

LIBERTY TO THE OTOE AGENCY 

On Thursday, April 28, Spalding, Gray, the Indians and 
the hired men started with the wagons and the livestock 
overland to the Otoe Agency, which was about 250 miles 
distant. They planned to cross the Missouri River near Fort 
Leavenworth, where there was a ferry, and go up the west 
side of the Missouri to the Platte. Whitman was to remain at 
Liberty for several days and then follow. Allis was to go 
with the women on the boat, according to the arrangements 
made with the American Fur Company. 

Mrs. Satterlee, who had been sick the entire journey, 
passed away late Saturday night, April 30, at the age of 
twenty-three. Dr. Whitman and her husband were at the 
bedside. Writing to Greene on May 5, Whitman reported: 



10 A biography of Miles Goodyear by Kelly and Howe was pub- 
lished in 1937 by Western Printing Company, Salt Lake City, Utah. 
It contains a wealth of new material about this young man who became 
the first white settler in what is now the State of Utah. Gray in his 
Oregon, p. 113, states that he was sixteen years old. Goodyear was 
born Feb. 24, 1817. 







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140 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

missionaries from their homes in the east to Fort Walla 
Walla was about $1800, or about $360 a person. That sum 
included all moneys spent for transportation, clothing, medi- 
cines, Indian goods, and incidentals. The time involved was 
about six and a half months, for the financial report was 
rendered on September 5, 1836. The missionaries received 
no salaries, but were content with the assurance that the 
Board would pay their necessary expenses. Nothing was said 
about special allowances for children, or for furloughs, or 
for retirement pensions. 

Whitman and Spalding hired a young man by the name 
of Dulin to assist them, and also secured the services of an- 
other Nez Perce boy whom they called Samuel Temoni. After 
they had started, a red-headed, nineteen-year-old lad from 
New Haven, Connecticut, attached himself to the party. His 
name was Miles Goodyear. 10 Thus the party grew to ten 
five missionaries, three Nez Perces, and two hired men. 
Dulin left the party at the rendezvous, but Goodyear con- 
tinued until they reached Fort Hall. 

On Thursday, April 21, Samuel Allis arrived at Liberty, 
coming down the river by boat from Bellevue. On the Sat- 
urday following he was married to Miss Emeline Palmer, 
the Rev. H. H. Spalding officiating. 

LIBERTY TO THE OTOE AGENCY 

On Thursday, April 28, Spalding, Gray, the Indians and 
the hired men started with the wagons and the livestock 
overland to the Otoe Agency, which was about 250 miles 
distant. They planned to cross the Missouri River near Fort 
Leavenworth, where there was a ferry, and go up the west 
side of the Missouri to the Platte. Whitman was to remain at 
Liberty for several days and then follow. Allis was to go 
with the women on the boat, according to the arrangements 
made with the American Fur Company. 

Mrs. Satterlee, who had been sick the entire journey, 
passed away late Saturday night, April 30, at the age of 
twenty-three. Dr. Whitman and her husband were at the 
bedside. Writing to Greene on May 5, Whitman reported: 



10 A biography of Miles Goodyear by Kelly and Howe was pub- 
lished in 1937 by Western Printing Company, Salt Lake City, Utah. 
It contains a wealth of new material about this young man who became 
the first white settler in what is now the State of Utah. Gray in his 
Oregon, p. 113, states that he was sixteen years old. Goodyear was 
born Feb. 24, 1817. 



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THE TRIP TO OREGON 141 

"From the post mortem appearances we were satisfied that 
the foundation of her disease was of long standing." 

The funeral service was fixed for Sunday afternoon at 
three o'clock. Just as they were to begin the service, the 
Diana appeared in sight. To the dismay and consternation of 
the small mission band, the captain of the boat refused to 
stop. With frantic gestures the missionaries hailed the boat, 
but the captain shouted back that he could take no one else 
on board and steamed by. 11 As the missionaries returned to 
complete the sad duty of burying the earthly remains of Mrs. 
Satterlee they felt they were burying at the same time all 
hope of establishing an Oregon mission that year. They 
knew it was inadvisable to attempt to cross the Plains with- 
out escort. Their only hope lay in overtaking the caravan. 

Whitman hired a man with a team and wagon. It ap- 
pears that the women had their riding horses. As soon as 
possible the party set out in pursuit of Spalding, whom they 
hoped to find at Leavenworth. Since the tent and other 
camping equipment had been sent on ahead, the women 
were obliged to spend their first nights on the prairie sleep- 
ing in the open with nothing more than their blankets for 
protection. When they arrived at Fort Leavenworth, they 
were disappointed to learn that Spalding had not tarried 
there but had proceeded on his way. Allis was sent ahead to 
overtake Spalding, which he succeeded in doing when Spald- 
ing was about halfway to the Platte. The light wagon was 
then sent back for the women and Dr. Whitman. 

Within a few days the party was reunited, and continued 
the journey over the prairies. Good weather favored them, 
for on June 4 Whitman wrote : "We have not been once wet 
even to this time, and we are now beyond where the rains 
fall much in the summer." Whitman was so anxious about 
getting across the Platte in time to go West with the caravan, 
that he and his associates pushed on ahead of Mr. and Mrs. 
Allis, with their heavily loaded wagon drawn by three yoke 
of oxen. 

By Saturday, May 14, the Whitman-Spalding party was 
within eighteen miles of the Otoe Agency, then located on 
the north bank of the Platte, about twelve miles south of 
the present city of Omaha. The trading post of Bellevue 

11 Some writers have felt that the fur company was loath to give 
any assistance to the mission party because of the presence of women. 
Allis to Greene, July 14, 1836, stated that there was a new captain on 
board, the inference being that the captain knew nothing of any ar- 
rangement with the missionaries. 



142 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

was about eight miles northeast of the Otoe mission. Even 
though pressed for time, the missionaries rested over Sunday. 

The caravan of the American Fur Company that year 
was under the direction of Thomas Fitzpatrick, who was 
known to Whitman, for Fitzpatrick had had charge of the 
caravan from Fort Laramie to the rendezvous and return 
the previous year. On Sunday, May 15, Fitzpatrick and his 
men left Bellevue for the rendezvous. On that day a mes- 
senger arrived at the missionary's camp from Major Dough- 
erty, of the Indian Agency, asking for Dr. Whitman. Major 
Dougherty's brother was sick and needed a physician. Whit- 
man responded to the call and while across the Platte called 
on Fitzpatrick on Monday. The caravan was then twenty- 
five miles from Bellevue, and Fitzpatrick was ready to con- 
tinue his journey the next morning. Whitman urged him 
to tarry a few days to permit the mission party to join him 
before they reached the villages of the Pawnee Indians. 
Fitzpatrick, while professing willingness to have the mission 
party along, insisted on continuing the journey. He felt that 
the members of the mission party could overtake the caravan 
before hostile territory was reached. 

Whitman hurried back to the crossing on Tuesday ex- 
pecting to find his associates there, but to his dismay they 
had not arrived. The guide whom Whitman had sent to lead 
them in had himself got lost in the uninhabited prairie, and 
consequently the party did not reach the south bank of the 
Platte until Wednesday morning, May 18. [Letter 28.] 

Realizing that every hour was important, Whitman set 
to work with frantic zeal to get the party across the river. A 
boat which would carry about six hundred pounds to a load 
was used. Spalding was sick and unable to do much. The 
brunt of the work fell on Whitman's shoulders, and Narcissa 
wrote, saying: "Husband became so completely exhausted 
with swimming the river on Thursday, May 19th that it was 
with difficulty he made the shore the last time swimming 
it." [Letter 26.] It was not until Friday night that every- 
thing was safely across. 

Since it was realized that they had too much baggage, a 
number of articles were abandoned at the crossing or given 
to Dunbar and Allis. Spalding reluctantly parted with many 
of his theological books. After repairing one of the wagons, 
the party got started again on Saturday noon, with the 
caravan then more than four days in advance. The outlook 
was dark indeed, but they pressed on in hope. 



THE TRIP TO OREGON 143 

ON THE MARCH 

They traveled all day Sunday, May 22, necessity making 
excuses for their troubled conscience. The Elkhorn River 
was crossed on Monday. The next day the party made a hard 
drive of about sixty miles. Those with the wagons were 
able to reach the Loup Fork about eleven o'clock that night, 
but as Narcissa wrote: "it was too much for the cattle." 
[Letter 26.] Seeing that the cattle could not keep up, Dr. 
and Mrs. Whitman elected to spend the night with Richard 
and John, who were in charge of the livestock. The next 
morning they drove the cattle to camp before breakfast. To 
their joy they saw the caravan on the opposite side of the 
river. They had won their race ! Later they learned that the 
caravan had met with some unexpected delays; otherwise 
they would have been too late. 

It took the mission party half a day to cross the Loup 
Fork, and on Wednesday afternoon they made another 
forced march late into the night in order to join the caravan. 
They drove until one o'clock Thursday morning. With 
thankful hearts they camped with the sleeping caravan. 
Marcus wrote : "We then felt we had been signally blessed, 
thanked God and took courage." [Letter 24.] 

The next day the caravan, with the mission party in the 
rear, passed the Indian villages. Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. 
Spalding experienced for the first time the sensation of being 
the object for curious eyes. They were the first white women 
the Indians had ever seen. Mrs. Whitman wrote: "We 
ladies were such a curiosity to them they would come and 
stand around our tent peep in and grin in their astonish- 
ment to see such looking objects." [Letter 26.] This was an 
experience which was repeated many times thereafter as 
they met with the different tribes of Indians. 

The caravan was like a great moving village with its 
four hundred animals and some seventy men. After joining 
the caravan, life settled into a routine. When on the march, 
they covered from fifteen to twenty miles a day. On June 3 
the caravan passed the forks of the Platte. On the 6th they 
met someone returning to St. Louis who was willing to carry 
back letters to be mailed. Three of the Whitman letters 
written at this time are extant. 

The first buffalo was killed on June 2, which means that 
the ten members of the mission party had been obliged to 
live for twelve days after they left the Otoe Agency on the 
food they brought with them. Narcissa once wrote of the 



144 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

difficulty of baking for ten people out-of-doors, and she 
boasted of her husband's skill in cooking buffalo meat. 
[Letter 26.] 

When on the march the Whitmans and the Spaldings fre- 
quently rode together in the light wagon, resting on top of 
the baggage. Mrs. Spalding was not very strong and pre- 
ferred that method of travel as long as it was available. 
Gray drove a four-horse team, hitched to the heavy wagon ; 
the Indian boys took care of the cattle ; Dulin and Goodyear 
assisted with the horses. [Letter 26.] Narcissa's letters are 
some of the most human and revealing documents ever pro- 
duced by any of the many thousands who went over the 
Oregon Trail and are filled with interesting details concern- 
ing their experiences. 

The caravan reached Fort Laramie on Monday, June 13, 
which meant that it was about five weeks earlier than was the 
caravan of the preceding year. Here they remained for eight 
days, leaving on Tuesday, June 21, for the rendezvous. Dur- 
ing this interval the women had an opportunity to wash 
their clothes. Narcissa noted in her journal that only three 
such opportunities came to them en route; once at Fort 
Laramie, again at the rendezvous, and the third time at 
Fort Boise. [Letter 29.] 

Whitman and Spalding decided that it was best to leave 
the heavy farm wagon at Fort Laramie and repack the bag- 
gage on the animals. The mules were given an average load 
of 250 pounds, while the horses sometimes carried heavier 
burdens. No buffalo were to be found west of the Continental 
Divide, so dried buffalo meat was taken along. Narcissa 
wrote : "We have meat and tea in the morn and tea and meat 
at noon all our variety consists in the different ways of 
cooking." [Letter 26.] 

The caravan followed the usual route which took them by 
famous Independence Rock, a landmark along the Oregon 
Trail. Gray later wrote that nearly all the prominent persons 
of the caravan carved their names on the rock, a common 
practice of the day. 12 The caravan crossed the Continental 
Divide on July 4. A monument erected by the Wyoming 
Trail Commission now marks the place where the first white 
women crossed the crest of the Rockies. They reached the 
rendezvous on Wednesday, July 6. It was held that year on 



12 Gray, Oregon, p. 118. 



THE TRIP TO OREGON 145 

the Green River in the vicinity of what is now Daniel, 
Wyoming. 13 

Under the leadership of Joseph L. Meek, one of the most 
famous of the mountain men, the trappers gave the mission 
party, and especially the two women, a rousing welcome. 
Meek never lost an opportunity to be in the presence of Mrs. 
Whitman, and regaled her with his stories of battles with 
Blackfeet Indians and grizzly bears. The welcome given by 
the Indians was none the less cordial. The Indian women 
gathered around the two white women and saluted them not 
only by shaking hands, but also "with a most hearty kiss." 
Both Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Spalding were much affected by 
this unexpected demonstration on the part of the Indian 
women. 

The first part of a long and difficult journey was over. 
On July 16 Whitman wrote to Greene, saying: "I see no 
reason to regret our choice of a journey by land." However, 
the most hazardous part of the journey was yet before them. 

AT THE RENDEZVOUS 

The presence of the white women at the rendezvous in 
the summer of 1836 created a real sensation. Some of the 
mountain men had not seen a white woman for years and 
were quick to accept the invitation of the missionaries to 
join them in their daily devotions. Frequently from fifteen 
to twenty of the trappers were present on such occasions. 
There was an amazing interest in Bibles. Narcissa wrote 
that if they had packed one or two animals with nothing but 
Bibles she believed all would have been sold or given away. 
[Letter 27.] Wonder of wonders a revival of religion had 
broken out among the mountain men at the rendezvous ! 

Another Bible story of a different type is found in a 
newspaper clipping in the archives of the American Board, 
from which the following extract is taken : 

St. Louis Oct. 3, 1838 

For the Bulletin. "Astonishing Disclosure" Messrs. Editors: As a 
citizen of St. Louis I have been grieved and mortified by reading an 
article in the Missouri Saturday News with the above heading. 

The writer then referred to the fact that the article had 
called "the Rev. Mr. Spalding all manner of hard names, 
because he had said that packs of cards had been bought 
of unprincipled white men, by the Indians, for a Bible." It 



13 Ibid., p. 121. 



146 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

appears that at the rendezvous Spalding had learned of 
instances where the mountain men had indeed sold packs of 
cards to the unsuspecting Indians for the "white man's 
book." Such cases were considered as a good joke by the 
mountain men, but Spalding thought it was sacrilegious and 
lost no time in sending back to his friends in the States a 
sharp criticism of the practice. 

More Indians were present at the 1836 rendezvous than 
at the one held the previous year. Whitman wrote that the 
Indians were especially interested in "our Females, cattle 
and wagon," [Letter 28] these being the first that most of 
the Indians had seen. Considerable rivalry developed among 
the Nez Perces and Cayuses, for each tribe wanted the mis- 
sionaries to settle with them. Narcissa wrote : 

This reminds me of a quarrel among the women while we were at 
Rendesvous. The Nes Perces women said we were going to live with 
them, and the Cayouses said, No, we were going to live with them. 
The contradiction was so sharp they nearly came to blows. [Letter 34.] 

The Rev. Samuel Parker did not return to the rendezvous 
in the summer of 1836, as was expected. Parker returned to 
Fort Walla Walla in the spring of that year, but, as he 
thought of the long and perilous trip with the Indians back 
to the rendezvous, his heart failed him. He decided to go 
to Vancouver and return to the States by boat. He wrote to 
Whitman from Fort Walla Walla on May 16, explaining his 
decision. The missionaries were deeply disappointed, not 
only in the failure of Parker to meet them, but also in his 
failure to send them the information they so much desired 
regarding the country and mission prospects. 14 

The question of a suitable escort to Fort Walla Walla 
from the rendezvous gave Whitman and Spalding consider- 
able concern. The Indians wanted the mission party to go 
with them by the northern route, as Parker had done the 
preceding year. This way was very mountainous in places 
and therefore more difficult. It would have taken two 
months longer than the shorter route across what is now 
southern Idaho. This factor alone was sufficient to induce 



14 Ibid., p. 119, states that Parker was afraid of giving details 
for fear his letter would be intercepted by the Hudson's Bay offi- 
cials and thus "did not deem it prudent to write or to give any 
advice." Contemporaneous documents do not support such a theory, 
for the Hudson's Bay men were uniformly courteous and helpful to the 
missionaries. Gray's unfair criticism grew out of some later unhappy 
experiences with the Company. 



THE TRIP TO OREGON 147 

the missionaries to favor the southern way. They wanted 
to reach their mission field in time to make some preparation 
for the winter, and every week counted. 

As early as July 8, two days after their arrival at the 
rendezvous, Spalding wrote to Greene that they had decided 
to take the southern route, which he estimated to be six 
hundred miles from the rendezvous to Fort Walla Walla. 
Fortunately for the mission party, John L. McLeod and 
Thomas McKay, of the Hudson's Bay Company, arrived at 
the rendezvous on July 12. This Company had purchased 
from Captain Nathaniel J. Wyeth the fort which Wyeth had 
built in 1834, known as Fort Hall, near the present city of 
Pocatello, Idaho. Wyeth was on his way back to the States 
and was escorted to the rendezvous by McLeod and McKay. 
Parker, learning of the intention of the Company to purchase 
Fort Hall, had sent a second letter to Whitman by these men, 
in which he advised the mission party to travel under their 
protection. The missionaries looked upon this arrangement 
as another token of Divine favor and hastened to make their 
plans accordingly. 

On Thursday, July 14, the mission party moved to the 
encampment of McLeod and McKay. The Nez Perces and 
Flatheads, as though fearful of losing their missionaries, 
also moved to the same vicinity. Before leaving the camp of 
Fitzpatrick, Whitman asked for his bill to cover the favors 
received from the Company. In turn Fitzpatrick asked 
Whitman for his bill to cover medical services rendered, and 
when Whitman stated that he had no bill, Fitzpatrick de- 
clared that the Company also had none. Whitman wrote to 
Greene : "We have received nothing but favours & kindness 
from this company while with them." [Letter 28.] 

Among Whitman's patients at the rendezvous was a 
negro by the name of Hinds, who attached himself to the 
mission party and remained with them until they reached 
Fort Walla Walla. He rendered some assistance in the con- 
struction of buildings on the mission site. Narcissa referred 
to him in one of her letters as : "A black man who came on 
account of his health and for the purpose of taking medicine." 
[Letter 34.] 

TRAVEL EXPERIENCES 

On July 18 the McLeod and McKay caravan began its 
journey to Fort Walla Walla. On that day Narcissa started 
another diary which she kept with more or less regularity 



148 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

until October 22 of that year. This diary, intended at first 
for her parents, was copied and the duplicate sent to her 
husband's mother. For the sake of designation, the first 
diary will hereafter be referred to as diary A and the second 
as diary B. Diary A passed into the possession of Mrs. Har- 
riet Jackson, the youngest sister of Narcissa, and was given 
by her descendants in 1932 to Whitman College. This diary 
was published in some local paper in the vicinity of Nar- 
cissa's home shortly after it was received by her parents. 
On September 18, 1838, in a letter to her sister Jane, Nar- 
cissa wrote : "I regret you should have it printed, or any of 
it, for it never was designed for public eye." The paper con- 
taining the first published copy of the diary has not been 
located. This diary also appeared in the June, September, 
and December, 1936, numbers of the Oregon Historical 
Quarterly, being edited by Dr. T. C. Elliott, of Walla Walla. 

Diary B is still owned by a descendant of the Whitman 
family. 15 It appeared in the 1891 issue of the Transactions 
of the Oregon Pioneer Association, although a poor tran- 
scription was made. The same diary was better printed in 
the Chronicle Express of Penn Yan, New York, beginning 
January 8, 1931. As would be expected, diary A contains 
some family references which Narcissa did not copy for her 
mother-in-law. For the most part the differences between 
the two versions are of a minor character. 16 All of the fol- 
lowing quotations from Narcissa's diary will be from the 
first mentioned version. 

The matter of securing sufficient food after leaving the 
rendezvous was a real problem. A few elk and antelope were 
killed en route; occasionally, along the Snake River below 
the American Falls, fresh salmon was secured, and some- 
times edible berries were found. McLeod shared with the 
mission party a supply of rice brought from Fort Walla 
Walla. However, the main item on their menu was dried 
buffalo meat purchased from the Indians. Spalding wrote 
that this dried meat was "the poorest kind of buffalo bull 
meat, sour, mouldy, & full of all manner of filth, such as I 
once would not have fed to a dog." 17 



i Coll. U. 

16 Another copy, claimed to be an original, is owned by Mrs. Ginera 
Whitman Lutz, of Bellingham, Wash. See Bellingham Herald, Dec. 
20, 1936. Judging from the printed photograph of one page of the 
diary, this was written by another. 

17 Spalding to Greene, Sept. 20, 1836. 



THE TRIP TO OREGON 149 

In the first entry of the journal, which was begun on July 
18, Narcissa had the following comment to make about her 
food: 

I thought of Mothers bread & butter many times as any hungry 
child would, but did not find it on the way. I fancy pork & potatoes 
would relish extremely well. Have been living on fresh meat exclu- 
sively am cloyed with it. I do not know how I shall endure this part 
of the journey. 

On July 27 she wrote again : 

We have plenty of dry buffalo meat which we purchased of the 
Indians, & dry it is for me. I can scarcely eat it, it appears so filthy, 
but it will keep us alive, & we ought to be thankful for it. ... (Girls 
do not waste the bread, if you knew how well I should relish even the 
dryest morsel, you would save every piece carefully.) 

From the rendezvous to Fort Hall the missionaries ac- 
commodated themselves to the Indian's method of travel, 
which was to make but one camp a day. While crossing the 
plains, the caravan had stopped for a two-hour period at 
midday for rest and refreshment. The Indians, however, did 
not stop after they started in the morning until they were 
ready to camp for the night. The women found this rather 
trying and were glad to be able to resume their former way 
of traveling after the Indians left them at Fort Hall. 

On Saturday, July 30, they passed by the small geysers 
and soda springs in the vicinity of what is now Soda Springs, 
Idaho. Spalding looked into the future and saw the time 
when a railroad would cross the Rockies and bring visitors 
from "the far east ... to visit the West & see the great Soda 
fountain of the Rocky Mountains." 18 

Several references are to be found in Narcissa's diary 
to the light wagon which the men were determined to take 
with them. As has been stated, this wagon was not the first 
wagon to cross the Rockies, but it was the first to go west 
of the rendezvous. Little did they think of the significance 
to be attached to that event. Whitman and Spalding then 
thought only of the utilitarian value of a wagon at the mis- 
sion station. The following is a typical reference to the 
wagon to be found in Narcissa's diary. She wrote on the 
25th of July: 



" Spalding to Greene, Sept. 20, 1836. The Rev. Samuel Parker also 
prophesied the building of a railroad across the Rockies. When the 
Union Pacific first conceived the idea of doing this, some of the officials 
wrote to Mr. Parker for information. The originals of this corre- 
spondence are in the possession of L. Alexander Mack. 



150 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Husband has had a tedious time with the wagon today. Got set in 
the creek, this morning while crossing, was obliged to wade consider- 
able in getting it out. After that in going between two rats, with side 
of one so steep that it was difficult for horses to pass, the wagon was 
upset twice. Did not wonder at this at all. It was a greater wonder 
that it was not turning somersault continually. 

On the 28th one of the axletrees broke when the party 
was still several days east of Fort Hall. Narcissa was a little 
rejoiced for she felt that then it would be left behind, but 
the men converted the back wheels into a cart, lashed the 
fore wheels to it, and proceeded. "They are so resolute & 
untiring in their efforts," wrote Narcissa, "they will prob- 
ably succeed." This two-wheeled cart was taken to Fort 
Boise where it was left because of the fatigue of their ani- 
mals. [Letter 31.] Whitman and Spalding expected to send 
back for it, but they never did. 19 

The party reached Fort Hall on the morning of August 
3. There they met Captain Thing, one of Wyeth's men who 
was left in charge of the Fort. The missionaries were given 
a cordial welcome. Narcissa wrote that they were much 
cheered by the view of buildings again. They inspected the 
small vegetable garden and Narcissa mentions the pleasure 
of eating fresh turnips for dinner. 

The main body of the Indians turned north at the Fort 
while the McLeod and McKay caravan followed the south 
bank of the Snake westward. Chief Rotten Belly, of the Nez 
Perces, and a few other Indians decided to go with the mis- 
sionaries to render such assistance as was possible. The 
caravan got started again on August 4. Near Fort Hall the 
missionaries saw the Snake River, one of the largest rivers 
of the West, a tributary of the mighty Columbia. 

Great areas in what is now southern Idaho are nothing 
more than a sun-parched desert, where only the sage can 
grow. During the months of July and August the sun beats 
down with merciless intensity, making travel a trying ex- 
perience even in motorcars over hard-surfaced roads. It 
took the missionaries a full two weeks to make the journey 
from Fort Hall to Fort Boise, a trip that can be accomplished 
now with ease in one day in a motorcar. 

The letters and diaries of the members of the mission 
party speak about the "sandy desert," and the "scarcity of 



19 Other references to the wagon are to be found in Farnham's 
Travels, p. 142, and Cannon's Waiilatpu, p. 25. The wagon was still 
in use in the early sixties at the Fort. 



THE TRIP TO OREGON 151 

grass and water." Such expressions as "heat very great," 
"came fifteen miles without seeing water," and Whitman's 
statement: "Imagination can hardly equal the barrenness 
of the main route along the Snake River," [Letter 29] give 
some idea of the hardships they endured. The day before 
they reached Fort Hall, Narcissa wrote in her diary : "Heat 
excessive. Truly I tho't, 'The Heavens over us were brass & 
the earth iron under our feet.' " 20 

The hard sharp rocks made traveling difficult for the 
animals. Some of the cattle had to be shod even before the 
party reached Fort Boise. Five of the cattle had to be left 
there because they were too weak to be taken over the Blue 
Mountains. Some satisfactory exchange must have been 
made with the Hudson's Bay Company for these cattle left 
behind. 

The Snake River was forded on August 13 at Island Ford, 
which is about three miles below the present site of Glenns 
Ferry, Idaho. 'At that point two islands break the main 
channel of the Snake into three parts, thus making it possible 
to ford the river on horseback. Dr. Whitman had a hard 
time to get the cart across, because the swiftness of the 
current turned the cart over and entangled the mules in the 
harness. 

Several times Whitman and Spalding found it necessary 
to reduce their baggage load. At the rendezvous Whitman 
wrote : "The one thing I regret is that we brought any sup- 
plies except such as we wanted for our immediate use on the 
journey." [Letter 28.] When the light wagon broke down, 
other things had to be given away or left behind. The night 
before the party crossed the Snake, Marcus informed Nar- 
cissa that the little trunk, given by her sister Harriet, would 
have to be left. Narcissa wrote a little farewell to the trunk 
in her diary and added : "Thus we scatter as we go along." 

After reaching the north bank of the Snake, McLeod and 
McKay pushed on ahead of the missionaries, who found their 
progress delayed by the cattle. The trail led in a northwest- 
erly direction across the desert to the Boise River, which 
was followed to its mouth, where Fort Boise was located. 
This fort was established in the summer of 1834 by Thomas 
McKay, who remained there after his return from the 
rendezvous in the summer of 1836. 

The mission party reached the Fort on Friday noon, 



20 Irving, Astoria,, gives a thrilling story of the hardships endured 
by the Hunt party, which crossed this desert in 1811 and 1812. 



152 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

August 19, and remained there until the following Monday. 
The women welcomed the opportunity to rest. A further re- 
duction in their baggage was made there, including the 
wagon. Narcissa wrote: "The custom of the country is to 
possess nothing, then you will lose nothing while traveling." 

The Snake River was crossed again after leaving Fort 
Boise. Here a rude canoe was found, made of rushes and 
willows. This was large enough to carry the two women 
across the river. Two Indians on horseback, with a rope at- 
tached to the canoe, towed it to the other bank. The mis- 
sionaries with their reduced herd of cattle remained with 
McLeod until the 26th, when it was decided to divide the 
party. McLeod, the Whitmans, and Gray pushed on ahead, 
while the Spaldings remained with the Indians and the ani- 
mals. Their trail led them from the Powder River Valley 
into the Grand Ronde Valley, which they followed to the 
summit of the Blue Mountains. 21 After spending so long a 
time upon the treeless prairies and the desert wastes, the 
forests which cover the beautiful Blue Mountains came as a 
welcome change. 

The Whitmans reached the summit of the Blue Moun- 
tains in the afternoon of Monday, August 29. Before they 
camped for the night, the party came to a vantage point, 
where they were able to see down into the valley of the 
Columbia. Here is Narcissa's account: 

While upon this elevation, we had a view of the valley of the 
Columbia R. It was beautiful. Just as we gained the highest elevation 
& began to descend, the sun was dipping his disk behind the western 
horizon. Beyond the valley we could see two distant nits. Mt. Hood 
& Mt. St. Helens. These lofty peaks were of a conical form, & separate 
from each other by a considerable distance. Behind the former the 
sun was hiding a part of his rays, which gave us a more distinct view 
of this gigantic cone. 

McLeod left the party on the 31st and rode on ahead to 
notify those at the Fort of the approach of the missionaries. 
The Whitmans camped that night on the Walla Walla River, 
a tributary of the Columbia, about eight miles from the 
Fort. Under the heading of September 1, 1836, we read in 
Narcissa's diary : 

You can better imagine our feelings this morning than I can 
describe them. I could not realize that the end of our journey was 



21 O.H.Q., June, 1936, carried an article by T. C. Elliott, entitled 
"The Coming of the White Women," which gives in some detail the 
route followed. 



THE TRIP TO OREGON 153 

so near. We arose as soon as it was light, took a cup of coffee ate of the 
duck, we had given us last night, then dressed for W. W. Started when 
it was yet early for all were in haste, to reach the desired haven. If 
you could have seen us now you would have been surprised, for both 
man and beast appeared alike propelled by the same force. The whole 
company galloped almost all the way to the Fort. 

The fatigue of the long journey was forgotten as they 
saw signs of civilization again. First they passed the vege- 
table gardens, two miles from the Fort, and then the Fort 
itself appeared in sight. It was located on the east bank 
of the Columbia River near the mouth of the Walla Walla 
River. When the party was sighted from the Fort, McLeod, 
Pierre Pambrun, the trader in charge, and J. K. Townsend, a 
traveling naturalist, rode forth to greet them. After the 
usual salutations, the weary travelers were invited to par- 
take of breakfast. Again the Whitmans sat in cushioned 
armchairs ! For breakfast they had fresh salmon, potatoes, 
tea, bread and butter. "What a variety !" wrote the grateful 
Narcissa. 

The Whitmans were ushered to the southwest bastion, 
which was to be their bedroom. Narcissa was thankful for 
the privacy of a room again. They inspected the Fort and 
the surrounding grounds. Narcissa noticed that the dooryard 
was filled with "hens, turkeys, and pigeons." Elsewhere she 
saw "cows, hogs & goats in abundance, & I think the largest 
& fattest cattle & swine I ever saw." Later in the morning 
they enjoyed a feast of melons. Narcissa wrote that they 
were the finest she had ever seen. 22 

They dined that afternoon at four o'clock on "pork, 
potatoes, beets, cabbage, turnips, tea, bread and butter." The 
Pambruns were as cordial in their hospitality as could be 
expected. Mrs. Pambrun was a native woman, who spoke 
some French in addition to her mother tongue, and very little 
English. 

On the morning of Saturday, September 3, Townsend and 
McLeod left for Fort Vancouver, about three hundred miles 
down the river. Whitman had decided that a trip to Van- 
couver was necessary, and so it was decided that he would 
follow with Pambrun. 

The Spaldings arrived on Saturday noon and were given 
the same cordial reception as that extended to the Whitmans 
and Gray. Out of the seventeen head of cattle with which 



22 Diary B., in T.O.P.A., 1891, p. 58, states: "... the first, I think I 
ever saw or tasted." Correct reading is "the finest." 



154 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

they had started, only eight got as far as Fort Walla Walla. 
Two calves were eaten; two cattle were lost; and five were 
left at Fort Boise. Whitman in his letter of September 5 
to Greene, written from Fort Walla Walla, lists thirteen 
head of cattle. If the Hudson's Bay Company replaced the 
five left at Fort Boise, the small herd belonging to the mis- 
sionaries would have numbered thirteen. Writing to Parker, 
Whitman stated that they had "five cows, seven heiffers, and 
one bull." [Letter 31.] These cattle were highly prized, for 
the Hudson's Bay Company had a policy of not selling any 
cattle. The only way to get cattle into Old Oregon was to 
drive them overland from the States, or to get some in- 
ferior Spanish breed from California. 

FORT VANCOUVER 

After the arrival of the Spaldings at Fort Walla Walla, 
it was decided that all should go to Fort Vancouver. Whit- 
man wanted to meet Dr. John McLoughlin, Chief Factor of 
the Hudson's Bay Company in Old Oregon. New provisions 
had to be secured, and arrangements made for getting such 
necessities in the future. The party left with Pambrun on 
Tuesday at 2 : 00 P.M. in a boat which Gray described as being 
"30 feet long and 8 wide in the center, coming to a point at 
each end propelled by 5 oares and a stearsman, of sufficient 
depth to carry 2500 pounds." 23 They reached Fort Van- 
couver on Monday, September 12. 

The first person they met upon landing was Mr. Town- 
send, the naturalist, who led them to the Fort. Dr. Mc- 
Loughlin and others noticed the arrival of the party and 
hastened forth to greet them. In addition to the white-haired 
Dr. McLoughlin, whose reputation for kindly courtesy has 
grown with the years, there came Sir James Douglas and Dr. 
William Fraser Tolmie. The missionaries were invited into 
Dr. McLoughlin's home and presented to Mrs. McLoughlin 24 
and Mrs. Douglas, both of whom were half-breeds. 

John McLoughlin (1789-1857) is one of the most pic- 
turesque figures in the history of the Pacific Northwest. 
He arrived in Oregon in 1824 and built Fort Vancouver. He 
stood six feet four inches high. His white hair was worn 



23 Gray to Ambler, Sept. 9, 1836. Original, Coll. 0. 

24 Mrs. McLoughlin was first the wife of Alexander McKay, who 
lost his life on the ill-fated Tonquin in 1811. She was left with three 
girls and one boy, Thomas. It was this Thomas McKay who met the 
missionaries at the rendezvous. 



THE TRIP TO OREGON 155 

long, so that it touched his shoulders. His commanding per- 
sonality and his reputation for fair dealing won the respect 
of native and white, English and American. 

Sir James was Dr. McLoughlin's chief associate, and 
later his successor. William Fraser Tolmie, M.D. (1812- 
1886), was a young Scottish physician who had received 
his medical education in Glasgow. 25 He first reached Fort 
Vancouver in May, 1833, having been sent out by the Hud- 
son's Bay Company to relieve Dr. McLoughlin of his medical 
cares. 

Dr. McLoughlin was quick to appreciate the significance 
of the overland trip made by the two women, and compli- 
mented them upon their achievement. Spalding wrote that 
he called upon "his powers of invention to confer upon them 
some title of honor as due to their heroism." 26 He did all 
within his power to make his guests welcome and personally 
guided them through his extensive gardens and his estab- 
lishment. 

Among those who were present when the mission party 
arrived was William McKay, then a lad thirteen years old, 
the son of Thomas McKay. Later he was sent East, and on 
the advice of Dr. Whitman, went to Fairfield, New York, to 
study medicine. He became a doctor and was for many 
years a resident of Pendleton, Oregon. 27 

Two other residents of the Fort should be introduced 
the Rev. and Mrs. Herbert Beaver, who had but recently 
arrived from England on the Neriade, then in port. Mr. 
Beaver was an Episcopal clergyman sent out by the Hud- 
son's Bay Company to be chaplain at Vancouver. In spite of 
the appropriateness of his name for a fur-trading post, he 
was not a success and returned with his wife to England 
in 1838. Another English woman at the Fort was a Mrs. 
Capendel, the wife of one of the employees of the company. 
"This is more than we expected," noted Narcissa in her 
diary, "that we should be privileged with the acquaintance 
& society of two English ladies." 

After considerable discussion, it was decided to have 
the women remain at Fort Vancouver while the men would 
return to the upper Columbia country, pick out the mission 



25 His son, Simon Fraser Tolmie, became premier of British 
Columbia. 

26 Spalding to Greene, Sept. 20, 1836. 

27 His reminiscences appeared in History of the Synod of Wash- 
ington, p. 234. 



156 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

sites, and begin building. Dr. McLoughlin was most willing 
to sell the needed supplies. Whitman and Spalding sought 
his advice as to the best place to locate the two stations 
which they had then decided to establish. A bill of goods, 
amounting to 371.8.1, was purchased. This included house- 
hold furniture, clothing, farming utensils, building supplies, 
Indian goods, books, stationery and other provisions. Out 
of this total Whitman assumed 188.7.2 ; Spalding accepted 
172.13.1 ; and Gray took 10.7.10. Gray's bill was smaller 
because he was unmarried and had no house to erect for 
himself. 

On March 18, 1837, Whitman again drew upon the Board 
to the extent of 102.13.1, of which his share was 26.12.10; 
Spalding's was 32.13.1, and Gray's was 45.7.2. These two 
bills, including the expenses of all of the missionaries, 
totaled 474.1.2. According to the rate of exchange then 
prevailing, the two drafts cost the American Board about 
$2,560.00. When this is added to the $3,273.76 incurred 
before the missionaries left the States, we find that the 
American Board paid out nearly $6,000.00 to establish the 
Oregon mission. A considerable sum could have been saved 
by a wiser selection of supplies before they left the States. 
"We see now," wrote Narcissa, "that it was not necessary to 
bring anything because we find all here." [Letter 38.] Even 
so, Dr. McLoughlin assured the missionaries that the cost 
of their trip across the country, covering a period of about 
seven months, was less than their expenses would have been 
had they gone by boat around South America. [Letter 38.] 

Writing to Greene from the rendezvous, Whitman had 
said that he did not regret the decision to go overland, and 
that: "For safety I would as soon risque a land as a sea 
voyage." After the trying experience in crossing what is 
now southern Idaho, Spalding came to the opposition opinion. 
In his letter of September 20 to Greene, he wrote: "I can 
never advise females, notwithstanding, to venture a rout 
over the mountains so long as a passage to this country is 
so easy by sea." 

Narcissa expressed her opinion of the overland journey 
in a letter to Mrs. Parker written from Vancouver, in which 
she said : 

Do you ask whether I regret coming by land? I answer, "By no 
means." If I were at home now, and expected to make this journey 
again I would choose this way in preference to a seven months' 
voyage 



WMlALSAHt 



DF?. JOHN M?LOUGHLIN, 

(THE OREGON PIONEEF?.- lass.) 




STEAMER- BEAVER. 

flffST STEAM SHIP TO f?OUNP C/^PE HOM 



The Beaver, of 1.10 tons register, arrived in the Columbia River in the 
spring of 1836. She was used in coastwise trade until 1888. See Pacific 
Northwest Quarterly, Oct., 1936, pp. 347 ff. From Evans, History of the 
Pacific Northwest, Vol. I, p. 16. 

Picture by courtesy of Whitman College. 



156 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

sites, and begin building. Dr. McLoughlin was most willing 
to sell the needed supplies. Whitman and Spalding sought 
his advice as to the best place to locate the two stations 
which they had then decided to establish. A bill of goods, 
amounting to 371.8.1, was purchased. This included house- 
hold furniture, clothing, farming utensils, building supplies, 
Indian goods, books, stationery and other provisions. Out 
of this total Whitman assumed 188.7.2 ; Spalding accepted 
172.13.1; and Gray took 10.7.10. Gray's bill was smaller 
because he was unmarried and had no house to erect for 
himself. 

On March 18, 1837, Whitman again drew upon the Board 
to the extent of 102.13.1, of which his share was 26.12.10; 
Spalding's was 32.13.1, and Gray's was 45.7.2. These two 
bills, including the expenses of all of the missionaries, 
totaled 474.1.2. According to the rate of exchange then 
prevailing, the two drafts cost the American Board about 
$2,560.00. When this is added to the $3,273.76 incurred 
before the missionaries left the States, we find that the 
American Board paid out nearly $6,000.00 to establish the 
Oregon mission. A considerable sum could have been saved 
by a wiser selection of supplies before they left the States. 
"We see now," wrote Narcissa, "that it was not necessary to 
bring anything because we find all here." [Letter 38.] Even 
so, Dr. McLoughlin assured the missionaries that the cost 
of their trip across the country, covering a period of about 
seven months, was less than their expenses would have been 
had they gone by boat around South America. [Letter 38.] 

Writing to Greene from the rendezvous, Whitman had 
said that he did not regret the decision to go overland, and 
that: "For safety I would as soon risque a land as a sea 
voyage." After the trying experience in crossing what is 
now southern Idaho, Spalding came to the opposition opinion. 
In his letter of September 20 to Greene, he wrote: "I can 
never advise females, notwithstanding, to venture a rout 
over the mountains so long as a passage to this country is 
so easy by sea." 

Narcissa expressed her opinion of the overland journey 
in a letter to Mrs. Parker written from Vancouver, in which 
she said : 

Do you ask whether I regret coming by land? I answer, "By no 
means." If I were at home now, and expected to make this journey 
again I would choose this way in preference to a seven months' 
voyage 




BEAVER 




DF?, JOHN MCLOUGHLIN, 

(THE OREGON PIONEEF?.- iszs.) 





STEAMER BEAVER. 

STEAM SMiPIO WOUND CAPf. HORN 



The Beaver, of 110 tons register, arrived in the Columbia River in the 
spring of 18IUi. She was used in coastwise trade until 1888. See Pacific 
Northwcxt Quurtcrly, Oct., 1D36, pp. 347 ff. From Evans, History of the 
Pacific Northwest, Vol. I, p. 16. 

I'ii'ture by courtesy of Whitman College. 



THE TRIP TO OREGON 157 

Perhaps the one best qualified to judge the relative com- 
forts and discomforts of the two routes was Samuel Parker 
who went out to Oregon by the overland trail and returned 
by sea. Writing to Greene from Honolulu on November 14, 
1836, Parker discussed the merits of the two routes and 
said : 

On this question, I want to say, do not on any consideration send 
them this way. It is a very long tedious way at best. And there is no 
knowing how long they would be detained here, unless a vessel should 
be chartered, at great expense, to take them into the Columbia river. 
There may not be a ship going into that river for years, which would 

take missionary passengers 1 think going with the caravan is not 

forbidding. 

Here I am shut up, like a prisoner, more than four months waiting 
for a passage to the United States, although several vessels have 
sailed for the States, since I have been here. Probably you will ask, 

why I cannot obtain passage? I am engaged in missionary service I 

thought I did right in adopting the course which I did; but if I had 
known what I now do, I would rather have thrown myself upon the 
mercy of the Blackfoot Indians, than to have come here. 

Parker did not succeed in obtaining a passage until the 
first of January, 1837. After a five-month trip around the 
Horn, he reached New London, Connecticut, on May 18. Two 
years after the members of the Whitman-Spalding party 
crossed the plains and the mountains, the Board sent out 
another party with women to make the same long and diffi- 
cult trip overland. The Methodist Board never sent any 
women workers that way, and but one party of men. The 
Lees went overland in 1834, but all others went by sea. 

We of this generation do well to remember the fortitude 
and courage of the first two white women to make the 
hazardous journey across the continent. It was, as Narcissa 
described it in her diary, an "unheard of journey." Narcissa 
and Eliza have won for themselves an important place in the 
history of the Pacific Northwest if for no other reason than 
that they were the first of a long line of pioneer women to 
venture over the Oregon Trail. But their fame rests on 
other reasons as well, which will be told in the chronicle 
of their labors as missionaries for eleven years in Old 
Oregon. 



CHAPTER EIGHT 

WAIILATPU 

1836-1837 

THE BOAT which took Whitman, Spalding, and Gray 
back to Fort Walla Walla left Fort Vancouver on 
Wednesday, September 21, 1836. It was heavily laden with 
supplies and was manned by eleven men. Pambrun and a 
Cayuse chief, who had gone to Vancouver with the mission 
party to see how the white men lived, were also on board. 

Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Spalding were reluctant to see 
their husbands depart. "One thing comforts us," wrote 
Narcissa in her diary, "they are as unwilling to leave us as 
we are to stay & would not, if it was possible for us to go 
now." Narcissa also mentions the fact that Dr. McLoughlin 
gave her husband "a pair of leather pantaloons" for riding. 

The returning party reached the Cascades on the 22nd, 
where a portage was necessary. Another portage of about 
half a mile was necessary at The Dalles. Sometimes the 
boats could be pulled through the rapids by ropes, but at 
other times they had to be carried. The Indians native to 
the region were always willing to help if paid by a little 
tobacco. It took from thirty to forty Indians to carry the 
empty boat. 

On the 28th, Pambrun and Spalding left the boat and, 
having secured horses, completed the journey to Fort 
Walla Walla by land. They reached the Fort the next day, 
and the boat arrived on Sunday, October 2. 1 By the follow- 
ing Tuesday the men were ready to search for suitable loca- 
tions for the mission stations. 

THE WHITMAN STATION LOCATED 

Even before Whitman left the East he had considered the 
possibility of locating his station in the Grande Ronde 
Valley, on the east side of the Blue Mountains, but the 
scarcity of game and the difficulty of getting supplies made 
such a location impractical. Since it was agreed that Spald- 



1 Drury, Spalding, p. 157, states that the party reached the Port 
on the 30th. This was due to an ambiguous statement in the Missionary 
Herald, 1837, p. 426. 



WAIILATPU 159 

ing was to settle among the Nez Perces on the Clearwater, 
the next best place for Whitman was in the vicinity of 
I Walla Walla. 

There were two good reasons for such a choice. To begin 
\ with, the Cayuse tribe lived in that region. Though this tribe 

j numbered only about three hundred altogether, yet it was 

composed of an aggressive and influential people. 2 Near by 
were two other tribes, the Walla Wallas and the Umatillas. 
The members of these three tribes were able to speak the 
Nez Perce language. Today the remnants of all three tribes 
are to be found on the Indian reservation near Pendleton, 
Oregon. 

A second consideration was the strategic location of 
Fort Walla Walla. Before it rolled the majestic Columbia, 
the main artery of trade and travel in Old Oregon. Even 
though the great Northwest was then crisscrossed with In- 
dian trails, the white man preferred the canoe and the bateau 
whenever possible. Each spring an express was sent from 
Fort Vancouver to Montreal. Most of the route was by 
water. The express ascended the Columbia, stopping at the 
Hudson's Bay Company's forts along the way Fort Walla 
Walla, Fort Okanogan, and Fort Colville. After reaching the 
waters of the upper Columbia, the men crossed the divide 
to the Athabasca River, and then, later, over other portages 
into the Saskatchewan River, through Lake Winnipeg and 
the Great Lakes into the St. Lawrence River, and thence to 
Montreal. It took six months or more to make the trip one 
way. A second express was sent eastward later in the 
season, and two were sent westward each year from 
Montreal. 

Fort Walla Walla was, therefore, at the crossroads, on 
the main line of communication which linked Vancouver 
with Montreal. It also marked the end of the trail that led 
over the Blue Mountains to Fort Boise, Fort Hall, and the 
rendezvous. Whitman must have been impressed with the 
strategic value of such a site. Future years disclosed its 
importance, for the old Indian trail broadened into a high- 
way over which came the covered wagons by the hundreds 
and thousands. At first the immigrants passed Whitman's 
station, but after 1845 most of them followed the Umatilla 
to the Columbia, which was a shorter way to The Dalles. 



2 Eells, Marcus^ Whitman, p. 96, notes that early writers differed 
widely in their estimates of the number of Cayuses. 



160 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

On Tuesday, October 4, Whitman, Spalding, Gray, and 
Pambrun set out to explore the Walla Walla River for a 
suitable site for the Whitman home. The Walla Walla River 
(literally Little River) , which emptied into the Columbia at 
Fort Walla Walla, is not a long stream. It rises in the Blue 
Mountains about forty miles away. The men rode about 
twenty-five miles upstream and then camped. Spalding 
noted in his journal : 

Found plenty of timber, cottonwood, birch, balm of Gilead, & thorn ; 
pine on the mountains in sight, perhaps 15 miles distant. Soil on the 
river & its branches appears to be good. This will probably be Doct 
Whitman's location. 

Spalding called it "a beautiful country, not mountaneous 
but rolling." A heavy growth of bunch grass covered the 
ground. The timber grew only along the banks of the 
streams, thus leaving the soil back from the streams free 
for cultivation. On October 5, Whitman selected a spot in 
the bend of the river on the north bank, where, by building 
about eighty rods of fence, he could enclose some three 
hundred acres. The Indians called the place, Waiilatpu, "the 
place of the rye grass." 3 Whitman selected for his home a 
place near the mouth of a small creek that flowed into the 
Walla Walla River. This creek was called Pasha by the In- 
dians, and later Mill Creek by the missionaries, because 
Whitman used its waters to turn his mill. 4 

The next day the men returned to the Fort. On the 8th 
Whitman wrote to Parker and emphasized the importance of 
his location. "You are well aware," he stated, "of the im- 
portance of the field as to its future influence on the civilized 
world. It is undoubtedly before the Willamette or any point 
on the Columbia." [Letter 32.] Later, Whitman was to see 
the immigrants pass by the Walla Walla region in favor of 
the Willamette, yet it is rather significant to find him at the 
very beginning of his residence in Old Oregon looking for- 
ward into the future and speculating on the importance of 
that fair country to the civilized world. Was he not even 
then dreaming of the day when the United States of America 
would extend its authority beyond the mountains to the 
shores of the Pacific? 



3 According to Dr. Stephen B. L. Penrose, formerly president of 
Whitman College, Myron and Edwin Eells, sons of the Rev. Gushing 
Eells, differed as to the correct pronunciation of Waiilatpu. One placed 
the accent on the second syllable, and the other on the third. The pro- 
nunciation usually heard is "Wy-ee-lat'-poo." 

4 Warren, Memoirs, p. 110. 



WAIILATPU 161 

THE SPALDING STATION LOCATED 

True to his promise, Chief Rotten Belly with a company 
of from twenty to thirty Nez Perces arrived at Fort Walla 
Walla on October 7 to conduct the missionaries to the Nez 
Perce country. The Nez Perces were deeply disappointed to 
learn that the Whitmans were not also to settle among them. 
They told Dr. Whitman that the Cayuses were always in 
difficulty with the white people and warned him of trouble. 
In contrast, they referred to their good record and again 
entreated him to live with them. Marcus wrote of these 
statements in a letter to Narcissa which Spalding carried 
to Fort Vancouver a few days later. Upon that information, 
Narcissa wrote in her diary on October 18 : 

The Nez Perces are exceedingly anxious for the location. Make 
many promises to work, & listen to instructions. They do not like to 
have us stop with the Cayouses. Say they do not have difficulty with 
the white men as the Cayouses do, & that we shall find it so. 5 

Prophetic words ! Would that the Whitmans had heeded 
the warning! Several years later, when Spalding was 
asked why two stations were established instead of one, 
he is reported to have said : "Do you suppose I would have 
come off here all alone a hundred & twenty miles if I could 
have lived with him or Mrs. Whitman." 6 Of course, Dr. 
Whitman could not go into detail and explain to the Nez 
Perces the real reason of the missionaries' deciding upon 
two stations. They had to be content with having the Spald- 
ings live with them. Nevertheless the Nez Perces shook 
their heads doubtfully and repeated their warning: "The 
Cayuses are bad people." 

Whitman and Spalding with their escort left Fort Walla 
Walla on Saturday, October 8. They remained in camp over 
the Sabbath. The two men were highly gratified to see how 
faithfully the Indians observed the day. They also noted the 
fact that daily devotions were practiced, a custom perhaps 
learned from Mr. Parker. On the llth the party camped 
at the confluence of the Snake and the Clearwater Rivers, 
where Lewiston, Idaho, is now located. The next day they 
reached the Lapwai Valley, about ten miles up the Clear- 
water from its mouth. Parker had favored the location 



5 See also Whitman letter 34, where Narcissa wrote in a similar 
manner of the Cayuses. 

6 Gray to Greene, Oct. 14, 1840. 



162 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

of a mission station at the mouth of the river, but the Nez 
Perces preferred the Lapwai Valley. 7 

Along the Lapwai Creek, which flows into the Clearwater, 
the missionaries found some good farming land. Spalding 
chose a site on the south side of Thunder Hill about two miles 
up the creek from its mouth. The Nez Perces, who numbered 
about three thousand, showed great enthusiasm, quite in 
contrast to the lack of interest on the part of the three 
hundred or so Cayuses. Having made the necessary selec- 
tion, the men again turned their horses toward Fort Walla 
Walla, which they reached on Friday, October 14. 

The next day the Hudson's Bay express from Montreal 
arrived, and arrangements were made for Spalding to return 
with it to Vancouver. Whitman wrote at least two letters 
which Spalding carried. One was to his wife, a copy of which 
we do not have ; the other was to Samuel Parker. Whitman 
had written this under the date of October 8, and then after 
his return from Lapwai had added a postscript on the 15th, 
in which he told of the selection of Lapwai as the home for 
the Spaldings. He repeated to Parker the warning of the 
Cayuses: "The Nez Pierces do not like my stopping with 
the Cayous ; and say that the Nez Pierces do not have diffi- 
culties with white man, as the Cayous do ; and that we will 
see the difference." He also wrote: "We expect to build 
both our houses this fall and winter, and be prepared for 
crops next summer." [Letter 32.] This letter reached Van- 
couver in such a damaged condition, that Narcissa felt it best 
to copy it before sending it on. [Letter 36.] 

The express left the Fort for Vancouver on Sunday, 
October 16, at 4:00 A.M., and made the trip down the river 
in the record time of less than three days. Assisted by favor- 
able winds, the express arrived at Fort Vancouver on Tues- 
day, October 18, at 2 :00 P.M. Spalding wrote in his journal 
about the extent of his travels as follows : 

I have now since the 3rd of Sept traveled 1200 miles which added to 
our journey over the Mountains makes 5300 since the first of Feb last. 
There is yet 425 miles to travel before myself & wife reach our location. 

McLoughlin was surprised to see Spalding back so soon. 
Spalding had made the round trip in less than a month. 
Dr. McLoughlin was disappointed to learn that the women 



7 Lapwai is a corruption of the Nez Perce words meaning "Butterfly 
Valley." The Indians have a tradition that long ago myriads of small 
white butterflies were found in the valley at certain times of the year. 



WAIILATPU 163 

intended to go up the river with Spalding as soon as the 
necessary arrangements could be made. "The Dr.," wrote 
Narcissa, in her diary, "urges me to stay all winter. He is a 
very sympathetic man." Dr. McLoughlin was probably 
aware that Mrs. Whitman was then in the fifth month of 
pregnancy and felt that the care and comforts she could 
receive at Fort Vancouver would be much better for her 
than the privations and hardships attendant upon the es- 
tablishment of a pioneer home in the wintertime. But in 
spite of his repeated invitations to spend the winter at Van- 
couver, the women decided to go back with Spalding. 

In the meantime Whitman and Gray were busy at 
Waiilatpu erecting a house. Gray had started a building 
while Whitman and Spalding were making the trip to 
Lapwai. He secured the assistance of several men from the 
Fort, including Charles Compo, who had served Samuel 
Parker the previous year as an interpreter. Compo, who 
was married to a Nez Perce woman and knew the Nez Perce 
tongue, was of great value to the mission group. He lived in 
the vicinity of Whitman's station for several years and was 
frequently in Whitman's employ. The negro, Hinds, also 
went out to Waiilatpu, but his physical condition was prob- 
ably such as to make him of little use. 

THE WOMEN AT VANCOUVER 

Narcissa and Eliza had spent four happy weeks at Van- 
couver, waiting for Spalding to return. During this time 
they had received much attention from Dr. McLoughlin and 
the other residents at the Fort. Narcissa wrote : 

Since we have been here, they set a table for us in Dr. McLoughlin's 
sitting room, and we have the company of Mrs. Douglas, Miss Maria 
(McLaughlin) and two of the Gentlemen. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver occupy 
a part of Mr. Pinlinson's house ; and a Mrs. Carpendel eats by herself 
in her own room. . . . [Letter 36. ] 8 

Mrs. Whitman wrote of the great variety of items on 
their menu. She mentioned the various kinds of vegetables, 
including tomatoes. There were also wild game, fish, rice, 
cheese, and fruit. The fact that she and Mrs. Spalding be- 
longed to the "tee total Society" did not prevent Dr. Mc- 
Loughlin and the other gentlemen from raising their glasses 



8 Samuel Parker, M.D., the son of the Rev. Samuel Parker, copied 
these letters in a manuscript history of the Oregon mission he wrote. 
A copy of this is in the library of Cornell University, Ithaca, New 
York. 



164 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

frequently to drink toasts to their lady guests. There must 
have been some good-natured banter about the table, for 
Narcissa wrote that the men never gave them the oppor- 
tunity of refusing the toasts. "We have many talks about 
drinking wine," she wrote, "but no one joins our society." 

The presence of the two cultured white women, especially 
of Mrs. Whitman, who was more socially inclined than Mrs. 
Spalding, was an oasis in a desert land to Dr. McLoughlin. 
He did all within his power to make their sojourn a happy 
one. He begged Mrs. Whitman to tutor his daughter, which 
she was glad to do. At his suggestion Narcissa sang to the 
children of the school for an hour each evening. 9 It is easy 
to believe that Dr. McLoughlin was present whenever pos- 
sible for those informal concerts, for he, too, had succumbed 
to the charms of her sweet voice. Three times in her diary, 
Narcissa speaks of singing to the children of the school. 

I could employ all my time in writing, & work for myself if it were 
not for his wishes, I sing with the children every evening also, which 
is considered a favor. 

I sing about an hour every evening with the children, teaching them 
new tunes, at the request of Dr. McLoughlin. 

They have improved much in their singing, & learned very many 
tunes, for the short time I have been here. Dr. thinks it is a great 
assistance to them, in learning to speak the English language. 

Writing to Mr. Parker on October 25, Narcissa referred 
to the trouble that had already developed between Dr. Mc- 
Loughlin and his chaplain : 

Mr. Beaver arrived only a few days ago, before us. He preached 
twice every Sabbath, and I wish I might say to the acceptance of the 
people of Vancouver; but it is otherwise. There is a difficulty between 
Dr. McLoughlin and this Rev. Mr. Beaver; such that they neither 
speak to each other. Neither the Dr. nor the Gentlemen of the Fort 
have attended his services for several Sabbaths past. 

Beaver did not remain long at Fort Vancouver. He and 
his wife returned to England in 1838. In spite of his trouble 
with his chaplain, Dr. McLoughlin was a deeply religious 
man. Narcissa wrote in her diary : 

The most of the gentlemen of the Fort are Scotch Presbyterian & 
but very few that are Episcopalians. The great mass of labourers are 



9 Johnson, John McLoughlin, p. 118 : "The first school west of the 
Rocky Mountains was opened by McLoughlin, November 17, 1832." 
Johnson should have said in the Pacific Northwest, for the Catholics 
had long been in California, where they no doubt had a few schools for 
the natives. 



WAIILATPU 165 

Roman Catholics, who have three services during the Sabbath, one of 
which is attended at this house, in which Dr. McL. officiates in French, 
translates a sermon or a tract, & reads a chapter in the Bible, & a 
prayer. 

When the missionaries were ready to return to Fort 
Walla Walla on September 21, it was Dr. McLoughlin who 
suggested that they seek God's guidance in prayer, and he 
joined his petitions with theirs. 10 

As time permitted the women wrote or sewed or made 
other preparations for their return to the upper Columbia 
country. Occasionally they rode horseback. One day Mrs. 
McLoughlin sought to persuade the white women to give up 
the sidesaddles and ride astride like the native women. Of 
this suggestion Narcissa wrote in her diary : "We have never 
seen the necessity of changing our fashion." 

In one of Narcissa's letters we obtain a good idea of the 
conditions and difficulties of shopping at Vancouver. She 
wrote : 

The Company let us have goods as cheap as can be afforded & 
cheaper probably than we can get them from the States. They only 
charged us a hundred per cent more than the prime cost, or England 
prices. All their goods are of the best quality & will be durable. Hus- 
band has obtained a good stove of Mr. Pambrun of W. W. & we take up 
sheet iron enough for the pipe. My tinware has all been made within 
a week past of the first rate block tin. I have only six large milk pans, 
coffe & tea pots, Candlesticks & moles, covered pails & a baker, very 
good, the first of the f ashon seen here, etc. etc. 

And besides this the blacksmiths have all been employed in making 
our farming utensils, etc. and are mostly or quite finished, so that we 
shall be able to have our accounts closed & goods boxed ready to leave 
tomorrow. 

There are a few deficiencies in the cloth line. No provisions is made 
for beding, except blankets & these are dear. No sheets, nothing for 
shirting except striped calico. I have found a piece of bleach linen 
which I take for sheets, the only one in the store price 75 cents per 
yard. I miss the cotton batting for quilts & comfortables very much, 
but can make the blankets do me very well, only it will be heavy wash- 
ing for they are all white. [Letter 38.] 

Narcissa was also disappointed in not finding geese either 
at Fort Walla Walla or Fort Vancouver, but managed to 
secure enough feathers from wild fowl for a feather bed, 
which was ready when Spalding returned to Vancouver on 
October 18 to escort the women up the river. The feather 
bed was highly valued a hundred years ago. It was one of 
the insignia of culture. Frequently a feather bed was 



10 Spalding to Greene, Sept. 20, 1836. 



166 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

given by the mother of the bride at her wedding. Women 
boasted of the number of feather beds they owned, and some- 
times an obituary notice would contain such a record. The 
fact that Narcissa managed to acquire a feather bed in Ore- 
gon indicates a high cultural status. 11 

Before leaving Vancouver Narcissa copied her diary for 
her husband's mother. Both were left at the Fort ready to 
be sent on the first boat that would sail for the States. In 
her closing words she referred to her health : "I think every 
time I look into the glass, if Mother could see me now, she 
would not think my cheek bones were very prominent." She 
made a plea for letters. Her last paragraph was as follows : 

Husband is so filled with business that he writes but little. He often 
speaks of writing you, but says I must write for him, until he is less 
hurried in his business. He is far away now, poor darling! Three 
hundred miles, (if I had wings I would fly). I intended to have written 
this so plainly that Father & Mother could read it. Adieu! 

NARCISSA WHITMAN 

Two boats loaded with supplies and passengers left Fort 
Vancouver, Thursday noon, November 3. Mr. McLeod and 
Mrs. Whitman were in one boat, and the Spaldings were in 
the other. Eight of the boatmen were Iroquois Indians. The 
rainy season had begun. On October 22, Narcissa noted in 
her diary that the rain which fell that day was the first she 
had seen since the 22nd of July. It rained again on the 4th 
and 5th of November. On the 6th it rained all day. The 
women succeeded in keeping dry by staying under oilcloth. 
Of that return trip Narcissa wrote : 

At night, when a great fire was made, our tents pitched and the cloth 
spread for tea, all was pleasant and comfortable. I rolled my bed and 
blankets in my India-rubber cloak, which preserved them quite well 
from the rain, so that nights I slept warm and comfortable as ever. 
My featherbed was of essential service to me in keeping my health this 
rainy voyage. [Letter 39.] 

They arrived at Fort Walla Walla on Sunday, November 
13, after a disagreeable trip of ten days. Whitman and Gray 
were working at the mission site, where they remained until 
the 18th. Whitman had secured the services of two Hawai- 



11 There were grades of feather beds. The most desirable was the 
goose-feather bed, next the hen-feather bed, and last of all the turkey- 
feather bed. There was also a language of feather beds. It was con- 
sidered inhospitable to put a guest, especially a woman, in a room 
without a feather bed. If a guest wore out his or her welcome, the fact 
could be made known by substituting a straw tick for the feather bed. 
The guest would be sure to go the next day. 



WAIILATPU 167 

ians by courtesy of the Hudson's Bay Company, who brought 
the Islanders to Oregon as laborers. 12 Hinds, the colored 
man, died some time after the 18th. "Already," wrote Nar- 
cissa to her mother on December 8, "death has entered our 
home, and laid one low." [Letter 39.] 

The women spent the week beginning November 13 as 
the guests of Mr. Pambrun at Fort Walla Walla. Mrs. 
Whitman busied herself in teaching Mrs. Pambrun and her 
daughter Maria to read. Of this she wrote: "We consider 
it a very kind providence to be situated near one family so 
interesting, and a native female that promises to be so much 
society for me. She is learning to speak the English lan- 
guage quite fast." [Letter 39.] 

Whitman returned to the Fort on the 18th, and on Sun- 
day all five of the missionaries were together again for a 
religious service. On Tuesday of that week the Spaldings 
and Gray left for Lapwai. About 125 Nez Perces formed the 
escort. It was a long and colorful cavalcade that left the 
Fort that day, for, in addition to the Indians, Spalding took 
with him eight head of cattle, his share of the small herd 
driven from the States. His baggage, totaling about two 
and a half tons, was loaded on some twenty horses. The 
Spaldings expected to live in a buffalo-skin lodge until a 
suitable dwelling could be erected. 

Mrs. Whitman remained with the Pambruns until her 
husband had time to finish the house he was building. Being 
a physician, he realized the necessity of giving her the best 
possible care, so he labored from early in the morning till 
late at night on the rude dwelling which was to be their 
home. 

THE WAIILATPU HOME 

On Friday, December 9, Whitman returned to the Fort 
for his wife. The next day he escorted her to Waiilatpu and 
for the first time she gazed upon the spot which was to be 
her home for eleven years. Let her describe for us her first 
impressions : 

Dec. 26th, Where are we now, and who are we that we should be 
thus blessed of the Lord? I can scarcely believe that we are thus 
comfortably fixed, and keeping house, so soon after our marriage, when 
considering what was then before us. We arrived here on the tenth 
distance, twenty-five miles from Walla Walla. 



12 The Hawaiians were called Owyhees. One of the counties in 
Idaho received its name from this source. 



168 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Found a house reared and the lean-to enclosed, a good chimney and 
fireplace, and the floor laid. No windows or door except blankets. My 
heart truly leaped for joy as I alighted from my horse, entered and 
seated myself before a pleasant fire (for it was now night.) 

The next day she was able to view her surroundings in 
the daylight. About four hundred yards to the northeast 
was a hill some two hundred feet high, which is cone- 
shaped when viewed from that angle. From the top of that 
hill Narcissa could have found a good view of the surround- 
ing country. From that vantage point she could have traced 
out the course of the Walla Walla River as it curled in a 
half loop around the south and west sides of the acreage 
which her husband had selected. Fifteen miles or more to 
the south and east were the tree-covered slopes of the Blue 
Mountains, the upper parts of which were then covered 
with snow. 13 

Today the Whitman monument crowns the top of that 
hill. 

In another journal letter for her mother, started De- 
cember 5, Narcissa described her location and summed it 
up with these words : "It is indeed a lovely situation." From 
the unpublished portion of this letter we can glean many 
interesting facts regarding that first American home to 
be established west of the Rocky Mountains. 

On Friday, December 16, Narcissa wrote : 

Mr. Pambrun sent us a table & window sashes which he kindly 
offered to get made for us. The sashes were made with a crooked knife 
by a frenchman. I have taken the liberty to prime them & set some 
of the lights, & while engaged in it thought a great deal about Father 
how handily he used to do such work, & could have wish him here to 
assist in many things difficult & perplexing to hands unacquainted. 

There was so much to do and so few to do it ! The Whitmans 
soon learned that they could not depend upon the Cayuses 
for manual labor. Spalding was more fortunate in that 
respect, for the Nez Perces were eager to assist. 

The winter of 1836-37 was unusually severe. Snow be- 
gan to fall on the 16th of December, and before the storm 
had passed eighteen inches had fallen. This snow remained 



is Whitman letter No. 39. This letter was started on Dec. 5, 1836, 
and included entries for many days until March 30, 1837. The letter 
was supposed to have been published in full in the T.O.P.A. for 1891, 
but a comparison with the original shows that about twelve thousand 
words of the most interesting part were omitted. Hulbert and Hulbert, 
Marcus Whitman, likewise omits this section, for they followed the 
T.O.P.A. version. The full letter is to be found printed in the March, 
1937, issue of O.H.Q. 



WAIILATPU 169 

on the ground for several weeks. Lapwai likewise reported 
an eighteen-inch fall at the same time. The Spaldings were 
then living in the Indian lodge, and did not move into their 
home until December 23. As late as February 16, 1837, 
Spalding reported to Greene that his house lacked "two 
doors, two windows, and a part of the under floor." Gray 
assisted Spalding until the 28th and then returned to Fort 
Walla Walla. 

Gray met Mr. and Mrs. Francis Payette at the Fort and 
with Mr. Payette rode out to Waiilatpu to see the Whitmans 
on Wednesday, January 4. In his journal, Gray wrote: 

We remained with him fixing his doors, etc. the 5th, 6th, 7th and 
over Sabbath, the 8th; during Sabbath evening the Doctor and I had 
a long conversation about the past. 14 

Gray and Payette returned to the Fort the next day. 

It is difficult to deduce from the available source material 
an accurate picture of the Whitman home. It appears that 
Whitman and Gray had started to build a house thirty by 
thirty-six feet, but soon discovered that they would be 
unable to complete a building of that size before winter. Per- 
haps one wall was finished and the frame erected before 
Whitman decided to confine his efforts to the building of a 
lean-to, which seems to have measured twelve by thirty feet. 
In Whitman's first letter to Greene, written from Waiilatpu, 
May 5, 1837, he had this to say about his house : 

Brother Gray & myself commenced to build at Wiiletpoo 14th Oct. 
The frame of my house is thirty by 36 built in a substantial manner 
with good chambers. The leanto only is finished making two bed rooms 
kitchen and pantry. We commenced house keeping the 10th Dec. The 
remainder of my house I intend to finish in the fall. 

A good description of their home is to be found in 
Narcissa's journal letter to her mother under the date of 
February 18. This entry throws so much light upon their 
manner of living that it is here quoted in full : 

Feb 18th Anniversary of our Marriage. I find it perfectly natural 
to suffer my thoughts to dwell upon scenes that transpired one year 
. ago from the present time. One year, since I have heard a lisp even of 
my beloved friends in Angelica, & who can tell how many are sleeping 
in their graves by this time. Ah! it would be like cold water to a 
thirsty soul indeed, to know how you all do. It is delightful weather 
now; The birds sing sweetly, & the frogs croak; familiar sounds these; 
the same I used to hear in my native land. The Husbandmen are mak- 
ing arrangements for plowing immediately. The snow remained only 



14 W.C.Q., June, 1913, contains Gray's Journal. 



170 MAECUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

about six weeks upon the ground, Feb. so far, has been as warm, and 
pleasant as April at home, even more so. 

In addition to my other conveniences we have now 3 chairs & a 
bedstead. & all our doors are made & hanging. These are exceeding 
comfortable although not of the finest order. My chairs two of them 
are of my Husband making; with deer skin bottoms woven as the 
Fancy chairs of the States are & very durable. Our bedstead is made of 
rough boards & nailed to the wall, according to the fashion of the 
country. 

Perhaps a more minute description of our house is demanded. The 
upright part is a story & half, faces the east. As I said before the 
leantoo only is enclosed. The siding is made of split logs fitted into 
grooved posts. & the spaces filled with mud. The roof is made of poles, 
first covered with straw then with 5 or 6 inches of mud. The fire place 
& chimney is of the same. The size of the whole building is 30 by 36 
feet, the leantoo 12 feet between joints. My room is in the south end 
of it, a small bedroom & pantry on the north end, and a very pleasant 
kitchen in the Middle. On the west side of the kitchen, is the fire place 
with a twelve lighted window on each side, & the outer door. At present 
the Indians have full liberty to visit the kitchen, but as soon as we are 
able to prepare a separate room for them, they will not be allowed 
to come in any other part of the house at all. 

You will scarcely think it possible that I should have such a con- 
venience as a barrel to pound my clothes in for washing so soon; in 
this part of the world, & probably mine with Mrs. Pambrun are the 
only two this side of the Rocky Mountains. I am indebted to her for 
mine, & she never knew the use of one, untill I suggested it. I am not 
without a dog and good cat even. My dog was a present from Mr. 
McLeoud. These may appear small subjects to fill a letter with, but 
my object is to show you that people can live here, & as comfortably too 
as in many places east of the mountains. A few lodges of Indians have 
come to this place & the whole tribe will be here before many weeks. 

Whitman received a small heating stove from Pambrun 
on January 2, by which they were able to keep their rude 
dwelling quite comfortable. Indeed Narcissa wrote that she 
suffered less from the cold that winter than in many winters 
spent in New York State. 

FOOD SUPPLIES 

Until the first harvest was gathered in, both the Whit- 
mans and the Spaldings were dependent upon the Indians 
and the Hudson's Bay Company for food. The Indians fur- 
nished wild game and fish, for which the missionaries some- 
times paid. Spalding had eight head of cattle, including the 
bull and two calves, while Whitman had five cows. Two 
of the cows calved about the first of February, so after that 
they had plenty of milk. [Letter 41.] In the letters of 1837, 
written to the Board by members of the mission, mention is 
made of chickens and pigs. These must have been purchased 
from the Hudson's Bay Company. 



WAIILATPU 171 

Writing to her mother on May 2, 1837, Narcissa said 
that they had brought with them "a. good supply of pork, 
flour, butter, etc., from Vancouver," and had secured corn 
and potatoes at Walla Walla. She also reported that up to 
that date ten wild horses had been butchered to supply meat 
for their family, including their hired men, and for their 
visitors. She wrote : 

This will make you pity us, but you had better save your pity for 
more worthy subjects. I do not prefer it to other meat, but can 
eat it very well when we have nothing else. 

On May 10, 1839, Whitman wrote in a letter to Greene : 
"We have killed and eaten twenty-three or four horses since 
we have been here." 

While in Cincinnati, the men purchased seven dollars' 
worth of seeds, which they intended to take with them over 
the mountains. These seeds may have been part of that 
which was scattered along the way. When Whitman wrote 
to Parker on October 8, he suggested that Mr. Parker might 
send "all kinds of grains and seeds for experiment and 
variety, and particularly a large quantity of seeds of the 
locust, chestnut, and walnut trees." [Letter 32.] About the 
same time Narcissa also wrote : 

Husband has sent for the seeds of the Large Locust, Chestnut and 
Walnut trees. I should like to have the butternut included, for 
experiment. 

When Brother Weld comes, please remember and fill his pockets 
with peaches, plums and pear seeds, some of the best kinds, and some 
good apple seeds. What they have here is not of the best kind, nor a 
great variety. Another very important article for us housewives, some 
broom corn seed. We brought a little, but we are afraid it will not 
do well. They have nothing of the kind here, but use hemlock boughs 
for broom. Hemlock, I say, there is no such tree known here. It is 
balsam. [Letter 34.] 

While at Vancouver, Narcissa carefully saved all of the 
seeds of the grapes and apples which she ate. "This is a 
rule at Vancouver," she wrote in her diary, and added : "I 
have got collected before me an assortment of garden seeds, 
I take up with me, also, I intend taking some young sprouts 
of Apple, peach & grapes, & some strawberry vines, etc. 
from the nursery here." 

Whitman in his letter to Greene of May 5, 1837, reported 
on his agricultural activities. He began plowing the first 
week of March. He wrote : 

I have two acres of peas sowed 9 acres of corn planted & intend to 
plant 3 more & have planted & intend to plant 2 acres of potatoes, in 



172 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

all 16 acres. If associates come I think they will have little to fear 
for want of provisions. I hope to obtain wheat for fall sowing. 

Whitman lent fifteen hoes to the Indians and encouraged 
them to make a beginning of agriculture. In this letter he 
reported that he had been obliged to expel Richard, one of 
the boys he took East with him in 1835, from his house for 
bad conduct. John went with the Spaldings. The two boys 
were able to help some in interpreting. John died a year or 
so later, and Richard thereafter remained unmentioned in 
the Whitman correspondence. 15 Thus we find that Whitman's 
experiment of giving the two boys special training by taking 
them East did not prove to be very successful. 

Unfortunately, we have but three Whitman letters writ- 
ten in 1837, and none of these were written in the fall of 
that year. From a letter of Mrs. Whitman's, written April 
11, 1838, we learn that her husband harvested about 250 
bushels of potatoes and 200 bushels of corn, besides an 
abundance of garden vegetables. However, because Spald- 
ing's crop that year was not very successful and because of 
the demand of the Indians for seed, the Whitmans were 
very sparing in the use of what they had raised. Mrs. Whit- 
man wrote that they had refrained from eating peas, had 
taken but few potatoes, but had used freely of the corn. 
Whitman had received but little assistance from the Indians, 
so most of the labor of cultivating his fields rested on his 
own shoulders. 

By the fall of 1838 the gardens, both at Lapwai and at 
Waiilatpu, were producing in such abundance that the mis- 
sionaries felt free to use the products of their fields without 
restraint. The food problem was then solved. A few years 
later they were able to butcher hogs and cattle. Sheep were 
introduced from the Hawaiian Islands in 1838. The small 
band of eight head quickly multiplied, for the ewes were able 
to drop their lambs twice a year. 

Gray was a disappointment to both Whitman and Spald- 
ing. After returning from Lapwai, he spent several weeks at 
Fort Walla Walla. On February 1 Whitman visited the 
Fort, and Gray returned with him to Waiilatpu and remained 



is Spalding to Parker, Feb. 21, 1837 : "The Dr's boy ran away last 
fall, taking considerable property; which with the clothing and books 
given him, in the States, he has gambled away. He is a profane, 
gambling youth." Parker MS., Cornell Univ., Ithaca, N. Y. Eells, 
Marcus Whitman, p. 30: "After the death of Dr. Whitman Richard 
was appointed Chief by Indian Agent H. A. G. Lee, but later was 
killed by another Indian." 



WAIILATPU 173 

there until the 9th. He then went back to Fort Walla Walla, 
where he met Francis Ermatinger, of the Hudson's Bay 
Company, and the two went to Fort Vancouver in the latter 
part of February. Gray was restless and wanted his own 
station. He had written to Greene from Vancouver the 
previous September, suggesting the possibility of making 
an exploring trip for the Board. 16 Without waiting for the 
approval of those plans, Gray' went ahead and made ar- 
rangements to go with Ermatinger through the Flathead 
country in the spring of 1837. 

Gray returned to Walla Walla on March 14, and after a 
short visit to the Whitman station, was on his way to Spo- 
kane Falls. The heavy snow delayed him, but he arrived 
there on the 29th. Spalding also visited Spokane, arriving 
there on March 3 1. 17 He was en route to Fort Colville, 
where he hoped to get some swine and some seeds. Gray 
proposed to Spalding his plan of taking some horses back 
to the States and bringing out more cattle. Gray also spoke 
of his intention to return to Boston and see if the Board 
would not send out more workers. Four Nez Perces with 
some Indian horses were to go with Gray as far as the 
frontier. This trip of Gray's, about which Whitman appears 
not to have been consulted, resulted in much grief for him 
and the mission. Of this, mention will be made later. 

RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES 

The Whitmans found that their mission site was on the 
ground claimed by Chief Umtippe of the Cayuses, whom 
Narcissa described as being "a savage creature in his day." 
She also wrote : 

His heart is still the same; full of all manner of hypocracy deceit 
and guile. He is a mortal beggar as all Indians are. If you ask a 
favour of him, sometimes it is granted or not just as he feels, if granted 
it must be well paid for. A few days ago he took it into his head to 
require pay for teaching us the language & forbid his people from 
coming & talking with us for fear we should learn a few words of 
them.18 

Even before the missionaries arrived, the Indians were 
accustomed to assemble twice a day for daily devotions. 



16 Gray to Greene, Sept. 19, 1836. 

17 Hulbert and Hulbert, Marcus Whitman, p. 282, footnote, states 
that the site of Gray's and Spalding's meeting was unidentified. They 
met at Spokane. 

18 Whitman letter No. 39, from the portion not published in the 
T.O.P.A., 1891. 



174 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Samuel Parker may have been responsible for this, yet 
Narcissa wrote : 

The Cayuses as well as the Nez Perces are very strict in attending 
to their worship which they have regularly every morning at daybreak 
& eve at twilight, and once on the Sab. They sing & repeat a form of 
prayer very devoutly after which the Chief gives them a talk. The 
tunes & prayers were taught them by a Roman Catholic trader. Indeed 
their worship was commenced by him. [Letter 39.] 

Narcissa may have here referred to Pambrun, the Hud- 
son's Bay trader in charge of the post at Walla Walla, who 
was a devout Catholic. 

On Sunday, March 6, Narcissa noted that their Indian 
congregation had grown considerably, because of the return 
of many of the natives. "Last eve," she wrote, "our room 
was full of men & boys, who come every eve to learn to 
sing." The whole tribe would have come to the room if it had 
been large enough. She wrote : "Indeed I should not attempt 
to sing with them, were it not for the assistance my Husband 
renders. You will recollect when he was in Angelica he could 
not sing a single tune." That must have been a disappoint- 
ment to Narcissa. Gray wrote that Mrs. Whitman found 
considerable enjoyment on the trip across the country in 
teaching her husband to sing. 19 Her perseverance was suffi- 
ciently rewarded in that Dr. Whitman was able to lead in 
the singing of several tunes. "This," wrote Narcissa, "saves 
me a great deal of hard singing." [Letter 39.] 

In Whitman's report to Greene of May 5, 1837, he stated 
that the Cayuses showed a strong desire to be taught, but 
that little had been accomplished outside of teaching them 
to sing. Marcus and Narcissa were still laboring under an 
imperfect understanding of the language. A mountain of 
difficulties had piled up before them. The Indians seemed to 
be constantly on the move. They had no building large enough 
to accommodate them in a comfortable worship service. They 
had no school building, no books, and no other helpers to 
assist them. Marcus had a farm to cultivate with very little 
help there, while Narcissa had her household duties, and 
was likewise handicapped by the lack of competent assistants. 

ALICE CLARISSA 

On the evening of Narcissa's twenty-ninth birthday, or 
on March 14, 1837, a daughter was born to the Whitmans. 
They named her Alice after the mother and sister of Marcus, 



19 Gray, Oregon, p. 109. 



WAIILATPU 175 

and Clarissa after the mother and a sister of Narcissa. She 
was the first white child born of American parents west of 
the Rockies. 

Mrs. Pambrun was present at the time of the birth but 
was not able to render much assistance, on account of her 
ignorance of the ways of white people. Narcissa described 
the dressing of the babe by her husband and Mrs. Pambrun 
as follows : 

It would have made you smile to see them work over the little crea- 
ture. Mrs. P. never saw one dressed before as we dress them, having 
been accustomed to dress her own in the native style. I was able to 
lend a helping hand and arrange the clothes for them, etc. Between 
us all, it was done very well. 

Thus, you see, beloved sisters, how the missionary does in heathen 
lands. No mother, no sister, to relieve me of a single care only an 
affectionate husband, who, as a physician and nurse, exceeds all I ever 
knew. [Letter 40.] 

Narcissa called her babe "a treasure invaluable." 

Dr. Whitman was exceedingly busy during the days of 
his wife's confinement. Mrs. Pambrun was not very well, and 
in addition had her two children with her, so she was of 
little assistance. He found it necessary even to attend to the 
washing of the clothes himself. During the week the Indians 
returned from a hunting expedition, so that the mission house 
was "thronged with company," to use Narcissa' s expression. 
Moreover, it was seedtime, and Dr. Whitman was trying to 
teach the Indians the first principles of agriculture. He had 
started plowing the first week of March and was eager to get 
his seed into the ground. 

With the responsibility of caring for Narcissa and the 
child, the supervision of the house and the fields, and the 
entertainment of guests all resting upon the broad shoulders 
of Marcus, it is no wonder that Narcissa wrote: "He was 
excessively pressed with care and labor during the whole 
time of my confinement." 

Narcissa in her letter to her parents, dated March 30, 
gave the following description of the child : 

Her hair is light brown, and we think she will be like her aunts 
Jane and Harriet. She is plump and large, holds her head up finely, and 
looks about considerably. She weighs ten pounds. 

The Indians were intensely interested. In the above- 
mentioned letter, Narcissa wrote : 

The little stranger is visited daily by the chiefs and principal men 
in camp, and the women throng the house continually waiting an op- 



176 MAECUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

portunity to see her. Her whole appearance is new to them. Her com- 
plexion, her size and dress, etc., all excite a great deal of wonder; for 
they never raise a child here except they are lashed tight to a board, 
and the girls' heads undergo the flattening process. 

Among the chiefs who called was Tiloukaikt, who told 
Mrs. Whitman that the child should be called a "Cayuse te-mi 
(Cayuse girl)," because she was born on "Cayuse wai-tis 
(Cayuse land) ." [Letter 40.] He told her that the Indians 
of all the surrounding country had expected the baby's 
coming and that the whole tribe was very much pleased. 
Nearly eleven years later it was that same chief, Tiloukaikt, 
who took a leading part in the final tragedy. 20 

Mrs. Whitman made a rapid recovery. Within a week she 
was up again and dressed, and by the 26th she was able to 
walk out of doors. [Letter 41.] Mrs. Pambrun returned to 
the Fort on the 24th but left her twelve-year-old daughter, 
Maria, with Mrs. Whitman to be taught the English lan- 
guage. Dr. Whitman requested Dr. McLoughlin to send up 
one of the orphan girls from the school at Vancouver. In due 
time a sixteen-year-old girl arrived, who appeared no larger 
than one of twelve years. "You have no idea," wrote Nar- 
cissa to her family, "how difficult it is to realize any benefit 
from those who do not understand you." The two Hawaiians 
who worked for Whitman sometimes assisted in housework 
as well as in outside tasks. 



20 Whitman letter 46 gives the identification: "He is the Indian 
Teloukike, that gave our baby the name of Cayuse tenni, spoken of in 
a former letter." 



CHAPTER NINE 

THE VERSATILE DOCTOR 

1837-1838 

mHE WHITMANS at Waiilatpu, like the Spaldings at 
JL Lapwai, lived and labored alone for nearly two years 
after their arrival. The restless Gray left Spokane on April 
5 for the States ; consequently many of the tasks which he 
was supposed to do were of necessity passed to the doctor 
and the minister. Both Whitman and Spalding found that 
they had to spend much of their time in manual work. For- 
tunately, both men were versatile and could turn their hands 
with success to many different tasks. Whitman was not only 
the mission doctor; he was also farmer, carpenter, miller, 
teacher, and preacher, as occasion demanded. 

With infinite patience and unending love the Whitmans 
and the Spaldings gave themselves to a people far below them 
in culture literally to wild, ignorant savages. 

Our chief source of information regarding the kind of 
life the Whitmans lived at Waiilatpu is to be found in the 
correspondence of the members of the mission. It is rather 
amazing to realize that about three hundred of the letters 
the Whitmans wrote are still extant. 1 Nearly sixty of this 
number were sent to the American Board, and, fortunately 
for us, the American Board has the habit of keeping the cor- 
respondence of its missionaries. However, most of the let- 
ters which we have were sent to individuals. Many of these 
letters went around South America, while others were 
carried overland by trappers or by the Hudson's Bay ex- 
press. These letters have survived the vicissitudes of a 
century and after being passed from one generation to an- 
other are now, for the most part, safely cared for in the 
archives of such institutions as the Oregon Historical Society 
and Whitman College. 

We turn to such letters to find information regarding the 
three major activities of Dr. Whitman during those first two 
years; namely, the medical, the agricultural, and the 
educational. 



1 See Appendix 1 for the catalog of the Whitman letters. 



178 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

WHITMAN THE DOCTOR 

Although Whitman was sent out primarily as a mis- 
sionary physician, we find that he rarely referred to the 
details of his work in his letters. In his letters to the Board 
he would sometimes refer to the health of his associates, but 
seldom would he refer to the ailments of the natives. Here 
even Narcissa fails us. If the theory of her father's being 
a Thomsonian is correct, then we can understand why she 
would hesitate to say much about her husband's medical 
work to the members of her family. Under such circum- 
stances the tactful thing was to say nothing about a subject 
over which there was such pronounced disagreement. How- 
ever, we do find a few statements of a general nature which 
throw some light upon the conditions which Whitman faced 
as a missionary doctor. 

Both the Nez Perces and the Cayuses had their medicine 
men, whom they called tud-ah-tee-wats or te-wats. Like all 
medicine men of primitive peoples, they relied upon sorcery, 
superstition, and deception for their cures. In one of Nar- 
cissa's first letters to her Eastern home she described in 
detail an experience with old Chief Umtippe, which, inci- 
dentally, throws much light upon the superstitions of the 
Indians. 

Early in the spring of 1837 a number of Indians "were 
taken sick with an inflamation of the lungs." Among the 
afflicted was the wife of Chief Umtippe, who nearly died. 
Narcissa wrote : 

For a season they were satisfied with my husband's attention, and 
were doing well; but when they would over-eat themselves, or go into a 
relapse from unnecessary exposure, then they must have their te-wat 
doctors ; say that the medicine was bad, and all was bad. Their te-wat 
is the same species of juggling as practiced by the Pawnees, which Mr. 
Dunbar describes playing the fool over them, and giving no medicine. 
They employed them over and over again, but they remained the same. 
Soon they became weary of these, and must have a more noted one. 
[Letter 41.] 

Chief Umtippe was greatly concerned over the condition 
of his wife and bluntly told Dr. Whitman that if she died 
while under his care "he should kill him." That threat rested 
back upon an Indian custom. Frequently the te-wat was 
killed when the patient died. The threat came at the be- 
ginning of the Whitman residence at Waiilatpu, and pointed 
like a dark shadowy finger across the eleven years to the 
final tragedy, when the life of "the white te-wat" was indeed 



THE VERSATILE DOCTOR 179 

taken. "The contest," wrote Narcissa, "has been sharp be- 
tween him and the Indians, and husband was nearly sick 
with the excitement and care of them." 

Chief Umtippe, losing faith in Dr. Whitman, called in 
a famous te-wat from the Walla Walla Indians, who came 
and after chanting his incantations pronounced the woman 
well. But, alas, the next day she was worse. The presence 
of the te-wat relieved Dr. Whitman of responsibility. Chief 
Umtippe went into a rage over the Walla Walla te-wat's 
failure and declared that he ought to be killed. Fortunately 
for the te-wat, the woman recovered. 

However, a little later this grim superstition of the In- 
dians wrought its vengeance upon him. Narcissa described 
the incident as follows : 

Last Saturday the war chief died at Walla Walla. He was a Cayuse, 
and a relative of Umtippe; was sick but six days; employed the same 
Walla Walla te-wat Umtippe sent for, but he died in his hands. The 
same day Ye-he-kis-kis, a younger brother of Umtippe, went to Walla 
Walla; arrived about twilight, and shot the te-wat dead. Thus they 
are avenged. [Letter 41.] 

About that time Chief Umtippe himself was taken ill and 
went to Dr. Whitman for medicine. "Notwithstanding all his 
villany," wrote Narcissa, "he came to my husband to be 
doctored. He was very sick, and we thought he would die ; 
but the medicine given him soon relieved him." 

In one of Spalding's letters we find mention of the many 
cases of lung complaint among the Indians occasioned by 
"bare feet in the wet and snow." Another common trouble 
was due to overeating. When food was plentiful, the Indians 
would gorge themselves, and then perhaps half starve before 
more food would be found. They alternated between feasts 
and famines. For gluttony Spalding prescribed cathartics, 
a simple and effective remedy. 2 

On Monday, May 1, 1837, another influential chief visited 
Dr. Whitman and asked for medical attention. He was 
Stickus, who proved to be a valuable and faithful friend. 
Stickus was to Whitman what Timothy was to Spalding. 
Narcissa called him "an excellent Indian," and stated that 
he was half convinced that the methods of the te-wats were 
all wrong. The Whitmans took Stickus into their home, 
where they could supervise the treatment. At times Stickus 
was doubtful of the efficacy of the new method. The Whit- 
mans were as sympathetic as possible for they realized the 



2 Warren, Memoirs, pp. 72 if. 



180 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

struggle involved, and the risk they ran if Stickus died. 
Throughout Tuesday and Wednesday, Stickus remained 
in the Whitman home. Narcissa sat up late Wednesday 
night to minister to the sick Indian's needs. It was then 
that she finished her long newsy letter of May 2 to her par- 
ents. In that letter she made the plea for additional workers, 
a plea which is to be found in nearly every letter the Whit- 
mans sent home. 

Who will come over and help us? Weak, frail nature cannot endure 
excessive care and anxiety any great length of time, without fall under 
it. I refer more particularly to my husband. His labor this spring has 
affected his health considerably. His old complaint in his side affects 
him occasionally. 

The letter closes with this postscript : 

You are indebted to little Alice Clarissa's quiet disposition for this 
sheet. I have no cradle yet, and she has lain in my lap all day ; for she 
does not like to be where she cannot see her mother, long at a time. 
She receives many kisses for her grandparents, uncles and aunts, every 
day. She is now in bed with her father, sleeping sweetly. She is 
pleasant company for me here alone. 

One o'clock, and I retire, leave the sick Indian to himself the re- 
mainder of the night. [Letter 41.] 

Stickus recovered, and it may be that his abiding friend- 
ship to the Whitmans can be traced back to the tender care 
he received in their home at this time. Years later it was 
Stickus who guided the first great emigration over the Blue 
Mountains, and a few years after that it was Stickus who 
warned Dr. Whitman that certain Indians had "a bad heart." 

WHITMAN THE FARMER 

Both Whitman and Spalding saw the necessity of teach- 
ing the Indians the arts of civilization. There were two 
outstanding reasons. In the first place, the type of life the 
Indians followed gave them a precarious livelihood. The 
buffalo east of the mountains were being slaughtered by the 
thousands. The missionaries saw that the day was coming 
when the wild life would not furnish sufficient meat for the 
Indians. Narcissa wrote: "We are anxious to give them 
the means of procuring their provisions in a more easy way, 
so that there may be less starving ones during the winter." 
[Letter 46.] It was therefore necessary to teach them to 
cultivate the soil. 

In the second place, any consistent educational or religious 
work was made extremely difficult when the tribe was con- 
stantly on the move. The sensible plan was to settle the 



THE VERSATILE DOCTOR 181 

Indians. Hence Whitman's interest in agriculture was two- 
fold. By it he expected to raise much of his own food, and 
by it he hoped to change the habits of the Indians, to whom 
he had dedicated his life. 

Whitman found the soil and the climate admirably fitted 
for agricultural purposes. He had a plow for his own use 
the first spring, but had only hoes to give to the Indians. 
Whitman wrote to Greene in May, 1837, asking for more 
hoes. A year later, he wrote again, saying in part : 

I have written to several gentlemen of my acquaintance to send us 
fifty ploughs & three hundred hoes, & in case of failure I have ordered 
my Brother to appropriate two hundred dollars on my account to that 
object. But this is not enough, what are three hundred hoes & fifty 
ploughs. We ought to have at least seventy five or one hundred ploughs 
& six hundred hoes immediately to save this starving multitude from 
an untimely grave. 

He also added : 

Had I one doubt of the disposition of the Indians to cultivate I 
would not thus write : But having seen them for two seasons breaking 
ground with hoes & stickes & having given them trial of the plough, 
I feel an entire confidence in their disposition & ability. [Letter 48.] 

The fact that Whitman stood ready to contribute two 
hundred dollars from his meager resources proves his faith 
in his endeavors to settle the Indians. The first year Whit- 
man boasted of having sixteen acres under cultivation. Re- 
porting on his activities for the second spring, Whitman 
wrote : "I have six acres of potatoes two & half of wheat & 
peas oats & corn enough to make forty acres probably." It 
is assumed that this acreage did not include the lands culti- 
vated by the Indians. 

At first no question was raised about the proprietary 
rights of the land. The Indians had never cultivated, and 
hence the idea of private ownership was never raised. Later 
this was an issue which caused Whitman considerable 
trouble. The Indians who cultivated the first year found that 
some of their own number helped themselves to the crops 
raised. The next spring all who planted were anxious to 
cultivate in the vicinity of Waiilatpu, where Whitman could 
watch their crops, "for," wrote Whitman, "they say the 
Indians fear me but do not fear them." [Letter 43.] This 
fear of others' stealing from them was a real hindrance in 
the development of Whitman's agricultural program. 



182 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

WHITMAN THE TEACHER 

Whitman's educational and religious activities can be 
considered together. Before much could be done along these 
lines, it was first necessary for the Whitmans to master the 
language. This was a difficult task, for the language had 
never been reduced to writing, and they had no trained 
teachers to assist them. Richard, from whom they expected 
much, proved to be unworthy and was expelled from the 
Whitman home. Chief Umtippe tried to force Whitman to 
pay for instruction. In the winter of 1838-39, Chief Lawyer 
of the Nez Perces tutored the members of the re-enforcement 
of 1838. It is altogether possible that Whitman had dis- 
covered this man's ability as a teacher, and had already 
used him in that capacity. 

By the fall of 1837 the Whitmans had sufficient mastery 
of the language to begin a school and to give some consistent 
religious instruction. Writing on April 11, 1838, Narcissa 
declared: "We have had a school for them for about four 
months past, & much of the time our kitchen has been 
crowded & all seem very much attached." Spalding had 
made a beginning in the reduction of the language to writing 
and had submitted a primer of some seventy-two pages to 
the Whitmans for their approval. Mrs. Whitman copied 
this primer before the original was sent to the American 
Board mission in the Sandwich Islands to be printed. Whit- 
man knew that a printing press was there, because his friend, 
Elisha Loomis, had taken one out to the Islands in 1820. 
Later it was discovered that the alphabet which Spalding 
devised was not adaptable. The primer sent to the Islands 
was never published there in full; only a few proof sheets 
were run off. 

Whitman sent the following description of their religious 
services to Greene on March 12, 1838 : 

We have two meetings for the Indians on the Sabbath & in the 
evening what we call a sabbath school for the children & youth. The 
attention on religious instruction is good & solemn. Worship is strictly 
maintained in the principal lodges morning & evening. Lately I have 
been explaining the ten Commandments & our saviours first & great 
commandment to which they listen with great attention & from their 
inquiries I think they understand them. They say they do not worship 
Idols but still I think many of their traditions are evidences of 
idolatrous worship of some Animals & Birds. [Letter 43.] 

Narcissa pointed out one interesting reaction to an 
educated conscience. "Some feel almost to blame us," she 



THE VERSATILE DOCTOE 183 

wrote, "for telling them about eternal realities. One said 
it was good when they knew nothing but to hunt, eat, drink 
& sleep, now it was bad." [Letter 46.] 

Names, for the most part from the Bible, were given to 
the children who attended school. Among these children 
were two sons and a daughter of Tiloukaikt. Narcissa named 
them Edward, David, and Jane. She induced Mrs. Pambrun 
to name her baby, born in August, 1837, Harriet. And then 
Narcissa was able to write : "Pa and Ma will see that I have 
my Jane, my Mary, and my Harriet, too." [Letter 46.] 
Sometimes names of old friends in the East were bestowed 
upon the Indians. Narcissa had a girl helping her with the 
housework whom she called Sarah Hull, after the wife of her 
pastor, the Rev. Lever ett Hull. 

The Indians were like children in many ways. They were 
capricious, now dutiful and obedient, again petulant and 
threatening. They had the idea that manual labor was be- 
neath their dignity and were fearful that the missionaries 
would make the children work if sent to school. "Gratitude," 
wrote Narcissa, "has no place in their hearts." [Letter 46.] 
On the other hand, Narcissa spoke of their respect for prop- 
erty. "I have let my clothes remain out over night, feeling 
just as safe in doing it as I used to in Prattsburgh." [Letter 
11.] Even the extent of the family wash later became a 
focal point of trouble, for the Indians looked with envious 
eyes upon what they considered the excessive amount of 
clothing owned by the Whitmans. 

In Whitman's letter of March 12, 1838, he made reference 
to Cayuse Halket, who had been sent to the Red River mis- 
sion school where Winnipeg, Canada, is now located. In 
1825, Sir George Simpson of the Hudson's Bay Company 
sent two boys, one from the Spokane tribe and the other from 
the Kootenai tribe, to this school. Each was given the name 
of his tribe and the name of a Hudson's Bay official. The 
former was called Spokane Garry 3 and the latter Kootenai 
Pelly. According to one report, these two boys returned to 
their people in 1828 and took back with them to the Red 
River school five more boys from as many different tribes. 
One of these was from the Cayuse Indian tribe and was 
called Cayuse Halket. 4 

In 1834 Cayuse Halket returned to his people, but, being 
unhappy with the lot of his people and their manner of life, 

3 Drury, Spalding, pp. 76 ff. 

4 Tucker, The Rainbow in the North, pp. 70-71. 



184 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

he went back to the mission school, where he died some two 
years later. 5 Dr. McLoughlin wrote to Mr. Spalding on 
November 28, 1837, saying in part : 

In my opinion, Indians ought never to be taken from their Lands to 
a Civilised Country, as they will see so many things new to them, that 
they may form very mistaken opinions, and if any thing happens to 
displease them, they may give those who take them there an Immensity 
of trouble; you see the return we get for sending the young Cayuse 
Chief [Cayuse Halket] to be educated at Red River, now that he is 
dead, his Relations, at least some of them give it out that we killed 
him.6 

According to William McKay, Halket aroused consider- 
able interest in the Bible among his people when he returned 
from the mission school. In his letter to Greene of March 12, 
1838, Whitman wrote : 

The young Cayuse who had been about seven years at the Mission 
School at Red River died about a year since just as he was about to 
return to his People We had looked for his return with much interest 
as he had been home on a visit & behaved very well. 

ELIZA SPALDING BORN 

Dr. Whitman's letter to Greene of March 12, 1838, and 
Mrs. Whitman's letter to her parents, written two days 
later, give us an account of their first visit to the Spalding 
home at Lapwai, at the time a baby girl was born to the 
Spaldings. Realizing that the Whitmans would have to 
bring with them their eight-month-old daughter, Spalding 
sent three of his Indians to Waiilatpu with a "leather lodge" 
for the Whitman's use. 

The Whitmans left home on Tuesday afternoon, Novem- 
ber 7, 1837. Before leaving, Whitman nailed up all of the 
windows and locked the door of his house. He took with him 
one of the Hawaiians besides the Indians Spalding had sent. 
The first day they made ten miles in a rainstorm, then 
camped for the night. They found the Indian lodge very 
comfortable, although they suffered somewhat from the 
smoke of the fire which was built Indian-fashion within the 
lodge. 

On Wednesday they made a good day's journey and 
camped on the Touchet, a tributary of the Walla Walla 



6 Dr. Wm. McKay, Hist. Synod of Wash., p. 231, stated that he 
thought Halket returned in 1831. Miss Tucker states that he returned 
in 1834. 

6 Published with the permission of the Governor and Committee of 
the Hudson's Bay Company. See also T.O.P.A., 1891, p. 141, for atti- 
tude of Indians when a Nez Perce died at the school in 1841. 



THE VERSATILE DOCTOR 185 

River, perhaps to the northeast of what is now Dayton, 
Washington. Whitman followed the old trail which con- 
nected the Clearwater Valley with Fort Walla Walla. Lewis 
and Clark had gone over the same route, long before there 
was any fort at Walla Walla, in the spring of 1806. 

It rained so much Wednesday night and on Thursday 
that they were able to travel but six miles that day. They 
camped Thursday night upon the same stream. On the 10th 
of November they awoke to see two inches of snow on the 
ground. The snow melted during the day, but the traveling 
remained rather cold and miserable. It was hard to take a 
baby with them on such a trip. That night they camped on 
the banks of either the Tucannon or the Pataha Creek; if 
on the latter, it would be about where Pomeroy, Washington, 
is now. 

The next day they passed over a divide, where they en- 
countered both snow and rain until about two o'clock in the 
afternoon. The trail led them down to a stream which is now 
known as Alpowa Creek, on the banks of which, near its 
mouth, Chief Timothy of the Nez Perces had his village. 
Timothy called his village Alpowa from the Indian word 
meaning "sabbath." His was the sabbath-keeping village. 

There at Alpowa the Whitmans found a letter from 
Spalding awaiting them, in which he urged them to press on 
with all possible haste. Mrs. Whitman described the cross- 
ing of the Snake River at Alpowa as follows : 

We rode all day in the wind and rain and came to the Snake river 
about the middle of the afternoon and thought to stop, but it cleared 
away, and after making a fire and warming a little, we started again 
and came to the crossing place, and when the sun went down it found 
me sitting by the root of a large tree on stones with my babe in my 
arms, watching by moonlight the movements in crossing our baggage 
and horses. This was the only piece of wood in sight and with a few 
bunches of wild sage a fire was made against it to warm me while 
waiting to cross. Soon I was seated in a canoe with my babe and 
landed across safely. [Letter 44.] 

They were then more than twenty miles from Lapwai 
but dared to try to finish the journey in the night. The next 
day was the Sabbath, and they wanted to reach their desti- 
nation before that day. After traveling twelve miles in the 
night Mrs. Whitman confessed that she was too fatigued to 
ride the remaining distance, so they camped on the north 
side of the Snake River near the present site of Lewiston, 
Idaho. It was agreed that the next day the Whitmans should 
continue their journey while the men with the baggage 
should follow on Monday. 



186 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

The Whitmans and the Spaldings had been separated for 
nearly a year. "It was with no common emotion," wrote Dr. 
Whitman, "that we met after a years absence & so far as 
Mrs. Spalding was concerned the year was spent without 
seeing any civilized friend after Brother Gray left the De- 
cember previous." The Whitmans were pleased to see how 
well Spalding had developed his station, working as he had 
singlehanded except for the aid rendered by the Indians. 
Mrs. Whitman wrote : "We found Sister Spalding very com- 
fortable and were not a little rejoiced to meet them after a 
separation of a year." 

The baby, a girl, arrived on the morning of Wednesday, 
November 15. She was the first white child to be born 
within what is now Idaho, and was the first white child born 
west of the Rockies of American parentage, who lived to 
maturity. 7 On Sunday, November 29, Mr. Spalding baptized 
his daughter and the Whitman child, and administered the 
Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, "a blessing," wrote Nar- 
cissa, "which we have not enjoyed since we sat at the table 
with our beloved friends in Angelica on the eve of our mar- 
riage." [Letter 44.] The Whitmans spent about three weeks 
at Lapwai, remaining until Mrs. Spalding was strong 
enough to carry on her domestic duties. 

The weather remained cold and disagreeable during the 
time the Whitmans were with the Spaldings. Narcissa felt 
appalled as she thought of the long trip back to her home 
with her baby. It was therefore decided to return by canoe 
down the Clearwater to the Snake, and thence down the 
Snake to Fort Walla Walla. That was perhaps a more com- 
fortable way, and yet Narcissa described the return trip as 
"a tedious journey." 

They left the Spaldings on Saturday, December 2, and 
reached the mouth of the Clearwater that night. There they 
camped in the snow over Sunday. One wonders why they 
left the Spaldings on Saturday. The presence of a large 
encampment of Nez Perces at the mouth of the Clearwater 
might have been the reason. Whitman in his letter to Greene 
stated that the Indians were very attentive to religious 
instruction. 

The Whitmans embarked in their canoe on Monday 
morning with a minimum of baggage and only one Indian for 
a guide. The river was low, and navigation was dangerous 



7 Mrs. Eliza Spalding Warren died in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. June 
21, 1919. 



THE VERSATILE DOCTOR 187 

in places. At night they were obliged to camp in the snow. 
They reached Fort Walla Walla on Thursday, December 7, 
and, after spending a day there, completed the remaining 
twenty-five miles of their journey on horseback. Dr. Whit- 
man took his little daughter on his horse with him on the 
trip to Waiilatpu. Narcissa wrote that they stopped but once 
to nurse and change her, "which she did not relish quite so 
well." [Letter 44.] It snowed the whole day. They reached 
their home after dark, and were, as Narcissa wrote, "not a 
little rejoiced to see it again." 

THE ADOBE HOUSE 

During the summer and fall of 1837, Dr. Whitman man- 
aged to build his adobe 8 house, which promised to be more 
comfortable than the lean-to. We regret that none of the 
Whitman letters written during the fall of 1837 have been 
saved for posterity. Since not even the American Board has 
a letter of Whitman's written during this time, it is supposed 
that all he wrote were lost in transit. 

Narcissa's letter of April 11, 1838, was published only 
in part in the 1891 issue of the Transactions of the Oregon 
Pioneer Association. The following extract is taken from 
the hitherto unpublished portion and describes the troubles 
the Whitmans had with their adobe dwelling. 

But I must talk a little to Father about our house. Our letters of 
last fall showed that we had a fair prospect for a comfortable house 
soon. In this we are disappointed. We mentioned that it was built of 
dobies made of mud, both the walls of the cellar & of the house. The 
last week in Dec it was so warm & melted the snow in the mountains in 
such quantities as to cause the waters of the rivers to rise to a great 
height and in many places to overflow their banks, both above and 
below us the waters were running in every direction. 

On the eve of the 28th the waters entered our cellar, the walls 
settled, the props gave away one after another, & for the whole night 
we were in the utmost anxiety, fearing the consequences to our whole 
house. Soon after dark our men & Indians went to work diping out 
the water & throwing earth against the walls & continued it all night 
long. In great mercy to us our house was preserved to us standing, 
although the wall is materially injured. Towards morning the water 
began to fall a little. We were obliged for several days & nights in 
succession to keep the water bailed out. 



8 Adobe comes from the Spanish verb "adobar," meaning "to 
pickle." It has the derived meanings "to tan hides" and "to plaster." 
Eells, Marcus Whitman, p. 112, quoting T. J. Farnham: "The old 
mission house stands on the northeast bank of the river, about four 
rods from the water side, at the southeast corner of an enclosure con- 
taining about two hundred and fifty acres." 



188 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

In March the river rose again and, as Narcissa declared, 
"gave it another stroke." During the winter, Whitman sent 
some men to the Blue Mountains to saw some pine boards. 
He had been able to lay a rough pine board floor in the fall 
of 1837 which was uneven enough to give Alice Clarissa, 
when she began to walk, many an occasion for stumbling. 
While at Lapwai, Whitman induced Spalding to make the 
window sash. 

After the crops were planted in the spring of 1838, 
Whitman visited Spalding at Lapwai, and helped him build 
his new home on the banks of the Clearwater. Narcissa was 
somewhat perturbed over the turn of events which gave the 
Spaldings a new house before they could build one at 
Waiilatpu. Writing to her sister on September 25, 1838, 
she said : "Mr. Spalding . . . persuaded my husband to be- 
lieve that he needed a house more than we did, and prevailed 
on him to go over and assist in building." 

In the fall of 1838 the first and only re-enforcement for 
the Oregon mission of the American Board reached Waiilat- 
pu. In that group was Mrs. Gushing Eells, who has left for us 
the following description of the Whitman home as she first 
saw it : 

Dr. Ws house ... is built of adobe (mud dried in the sun in the form 
of brick only larger) I can not describe its appearance as I can not 
compare it with anything I ever saw. There are doors and windows, 
but they are of the roughest kind ; the boards being sawed by hand and 
put together but by one who knew nothing about such work, as is 
evident from its appearance. 

The furniture is very primitive. The bedsteads are boards nailed 
to the side of the house, sink fashion, then some blankets and husks 
make the bed; but it is good compared with traveling accommodations. 9 

Perhaps Mrs. Eells did not realize that the best carpenter 
in the world could not have kept the green and unseasoned 
wood used in the woodwork, window sashes, and floors, from 
shrinking and warping in the hot summer days. 

MCLOUGHLIN VISITS WALLA WALLA 

Dr. John McLoughlin visited Fort Walla Walla in the 
latter part of March, 1838, en route to London. In the hope 
that he might be able to visit Boston, Spalding prepared a 
letter of introduction, which Whitman signed. However, 



T.O.P.A., 1889, pp. 88-89. 



THE VERSATILE DOCTOR 189 

circumstances prevented Dr. McLoughlin from visiting 
Boston. 10 

The Whitmans were expecting Dr. McLoughlin to call 
on them at Waiilatpu, but on March 27 he sent word saying 
that he was behind in his schedule and could not come. He 
requested them to call instead at Fort Walla Walla. The 
Whitmans with their baby left early Wednesday morning, 
the 28th, but a heavy rain caused them to return. It was 
then decided that Marcus should go alone. 

Dr. Whitman carried his wife's letter, dated March 14, 
to which a postscript was added on the 28th. This was given 
to Dr. McLoughlin, who took it with him and mailed it in the 
East. The opening sentence of that letter, written on her 
thirtieth birthday and on the first birthday of her little girl, 
paints a pathetic picture : 

More than two years have passed since I left my father's home and 
not a single word has been wafted hence, or, perhaps I should say, has 
greeted my ears to afford consolation in a desponding hour. This long 
long silence makes me feel the truth of our situation, that we are far, 
very far removed from the land of our birth and Christian privileges. 
I am weary of writing so much about ourselves without receiving a 
response, and yet I am anxious that father and mother should know 
all about us. 

The only letter of which we have record that the Whit- 
mans had then received from loved ones in the East after 
their departure was the letter from the Rev. Lyman Judson, 
which reached them at Liberty, Missouri. The first mail from 
their relatives did not reach Waiilatpu until July, 1838 
two years and five months after they had left for Oregon. 
Who can measure the heartaches and the disappointments 
of those years as the months rolled by without a word from 
loved ones ? They were as completely cut off as though they 
lived on another planet. 

All evidence points to a very cordial relationship between 
the Whitmans and Dr. McLoughlin. It must have been with 
real regret that Dr. McLoughlin gave up his visit to Waiilat- 
pu, and also when he learned that Mrs. Whitman was unable 
to make the trip to the Fort. In Whitman's letter to Greene, 
which Dr. McLoughlin also carried East, was this statement : 
"We cannot speak to[o] highly of his kindness to us since 
we have been in this country." [Letter 43.] 



10 Spalding wrote to Greene, Mar. 17, 1838, saying in part: "We 
have only to mention his name, to call to your recollection the numerous 
favors your unworthy missionaries have received, since their arrival 
in this country, from this gentleman. ..." 



190 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 
WILLIAM CAMERON MCKAY 

Thomas McKay and his three sons, William, John, and 
Alexander, reached Fort Walla Walla before the Montreal 
express which brought Dr. McLoughlin. As shall be men- 
tioned later, it is evident that Thomas had his daughter 
Margaret with him also. Thomas McKay was then in charge 
of Fort Hall and was en route to his station. He planned to 
send his eldest son, William Cameron McKay (1824-1892), 
to Scotland with Dr. McLoughlin to study medicine. 

McKay and his sons 11 rode out to Waiilatpu to visit the 
Whitmans, and while there Dr. Whitman strongly urged 
McKay to send William to the Fairfield Medical College. 
"Make an American of him," he told McKay, and prophesied 
that the day was coming when Oregon would certainly belong 
to the United States. Oregon was then held under a joint- 
occupation treaty which the United States and Great Britain 
had signed in 1818. Dr. Whitman felt that the boy would 
have a much better chance for a successful career as a 
doctor in Oregon if he were educated in the States and 
"became an American in thought and feeling." 12 

Whitman's arguments prevailed. McKay knew that 
Jason Lee was due to arrive soon and that the Lee party 
would go with the Hudson's Bay party as far as Fort Hall. 
It was decided to have the boys go on with Lee. 

JASON LEE 

On Friday, April 13, 1838, Jason Lee reached Fort Walla 
Walla on his way to the States. The next day he rode out to 
Waiilatpu, where he met the Whitmans for the first time. 
Jason Lee had missed seeing them at Fort Vancouver, for he 
left the Fort the Saturday before the Whitman-Spalding 
party arrived. Lee in his diary speaks of how Dr. Whitman 
met him and conducted him to the house, where Mrs. Whit- 
man met them at the door. 13 

Lee remained at Waiilatpu until the following Thursday, 
April 19, when he left for Lapwai to see Spalding. In the 
unpublished portion of Mrs. Whitman's letter of April 11, 
she wrote : "Our visit with him has been a very refreshing 



11 Since McKay was married to a native, his children had but one- 
quarter white blood. 

12 T.O.P.A., 1889, pp. 91 ff. 

13 Lee's Diary, O.H.Q., Vol. 17, pp. 417 ff. 



THE VERSATILE DOCTOR 191 

one. He is the first Christian brother that has visited us since 
Mr. Gray left last March, 1837." 14 

Lee spent Sunday, April 22, with Spalding, and the two 
started back for Waiilatpu on Monday. By riding seventy- 
five miles in one day they were able to get to Whitman's 
station by the 24th. Lee, in a letter written to his nephew 
on April 25, confessed that he felt a bit sore from his long 
ride the previous day. He frankly stated that he considered 
it very rash for Whitman and Spalding to settle so far apart, 
thus putting themselves "so entirely into the hands of the 
Indians when there was not absolute necessity for it." 15 It 
is evident that Lee had not learned the real reason for the 
separation. 

From this letter of Lee to his nephew and from his diary 
we find that he was favorably impressed with what Whitman 
and Spalding had accomplished. On the 16th, while at 
Waiilatpu, he wrote : "Visited the In's [Indians] Farms and 
was surprised that they had done so much in the absence of 
almost every tool necessary to do with. Some had two or 
three acres, wheat, peas, corn & Potatoes." 

To his nephew he wrote : 

Both the Kioose and the Nez Perce are doing a great deal in cultiva- 
tion, the former with wooden ploughs with a little bit of iron nailed 
upon them, and hoes, and the latter with hoes alone. Some of the Nez 
Perces came to the Doctor's for potatoes to plant, a distance of 300 mi. 
I was astonished to see the industry of these Indians. The fact is they 
are starving, and they will be forced to work their land 

Both Mr. W. & Mr. S. use highhanded measure with their people, 
and when they deserve it let them feel the lash. Now my Dear Brethren 
... be strong in the Lord, be firm, and let not the Indians trifle with 
you 

Lee was convinced that the Indians of the Upper Columbia 
were much superior to those of the Willamette Valley. 

Some explanation should be given about what he said in 
regard to the lash. In Whitman's letter of May 5, 1837, to 
Greene we read : "A system of punishment for crime estab- 
lished also by the traders has done much good." In a country 
where there were no jails or law-enforcing agencies, the 
white men adopted the lash as an effective way to punish 



14 About thirteen hundred words of this letter were omitted when 
the rest of the letter was published in the T.O.P.A., 1891. Although the 
letter was dated April 11, it contains several entries for later dates. 

15 Brosnan, Jason Lee, pp. 94 ff. It is possible that Spalding did not 
return with Lee but followed a few days later. Evidence is not clear 
on this point. 



192 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

wrongdoers and at the same time to inculcate a little respect. 
Spalding in his diary makes reference to the use of the lash 
by the Indians themselves upon wrongdoers. 16 It is doubtful 
that the missionaries ever used the lash, but may have re- 
quested its use from the chiefs. 

In McLoughlin's letter to Spalding of November 28, 
1837, we find this interesting passage in regard to the lash : 

You also see the return Ellice is making us for the expenses we 
have . . . upon him, and you know how Garry has acted ; When he came 
he found that the chiefs were in the habit of Flogging, at our suggest- 
ing, those who stole &c and by which in a great measure they had put 
a stop to their evil practices, and made their followers live more cor- 
rectly than before 

Because of the objections to the use of the lash raised by 
the young men who had been at the Red River school, it was 
gradually given up, although Dr. McLoughlin in this same 
letter stated : "last year the Cayouse Chief told me, that he 
now saw they were wrong in giving up flogging, as the 
Young Men would not attend to anything." 17 

Lee gave Whitman and Spalding such a glowing account 
of the work of the Methodist mission and the liberality of 
his Board in sending workers to the field that he aroused 
their envy. The Methodists had sent out a re-enforcement 
of twenty in 1837, and yet Lee was then on his way to the 
States for more. The next year he succeeded in bringing out 
fifty-one additional workers by sea. 

When Lee was with Spalding at Lapwai, he so fired the 
imagination of Spalding that on Saturday, April 21, Spald- 
ing wrote to Greene and made the following amazing request : 

To occupy these fields immediately, we ask as the least possible 
number which God & our consciences will admit us to name, for 30 
ordained missionaries 30 farmers, 30 school teachers, 10 physicians & 
10 mechanics, with their wives. 

A total of 220 additional workers! These Spalding 
wanted the American Board to send out as soon as possible. 
Spalding carried that letter with him to Waiilatpu, and there 
the three men discussed the future of the Oregon mission 
of the American Board. Undoubtedly Lee encouraged them 
to make big requests from the Board, and for a time Whitman 
shared in their enthusiasm. He signed Spalding's letter, thus 
making it a joint letter to the Board. Whitman then filled 
out a blank requesting supplies. 



16 Drury, Spalding, p. 216. 

17 Published with the permission of the Governor and Committee 
of the Hudson's Bay Company. 



THE VERSATILE DOCTOR 193 

One is amazed at the extravagance of Spalding's letter, 
and one is equally amazed by Whitman's requests. He asked 
for : "Several tons of iron and steel . . . 2,000 gun flints, fifty 
gross Indian awls, 100 dozen scalping knives . . . two best 
cook stoves, six box stoves." What must Greene have said 
when he received that letter ? 

The most sensible request in Whitman's long list was for 
two cookstoves, for both Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Spalding 
were cooking over an open fire. Another reasonable request 
was for mill machinery, for both Spalding and Whitman 
appreciated the importance of being independent of the 
Hudson's Bay Company. They argued that a mill would save 
them much money, for flour was costing them ten dollars 
a hundred. [Letter 62.] The awls and scalping knives were 
used in trading with the Indians or as payment for labor 
received. Whitman also asked for crockery, and for "1 
Websters octavo Dictionary 1 doz Watts Hymns 2 doz Village 
hymns ... 2 doz Parleys Geography." 

Ordinarily Whitman was not so unreasonable. Usually 
he was deliberate in his judgment. The combination of 
Spalding's impetuosity and Lee's success swept him off his 
feet. Both Whitman and Spalding felt that the American 
Board ought to be as generous with them as the Methodists 
were with Lee. Whitman wrote : "I hope we may not be left 
unsupported while our Methodist Brethren devise so liberal 

things I would urge that blacksmiths farmers mechanicks 

& teachers be sent as soon as possible." [Letter 48.] Later 
Whitman regretted that he had joined in the request for 220 
additional workers and goods in proportion. He was in- 
clined to blame the extravagant nature of their requests on 
the impulsiveness of Spalding. Yet the fact remains that 
he signed the letter, wrote out the bill for goods, and also 
wrote on May 8 : "I have had the pleasure of signing a joint 
letter to yourself prepared by Brother Spalding." 

On May 15, Whitman added a postscript to the letter of 
April 21, in Which he requested the following items : 

Add to your bill Shoes No 7 female, 8, 9, & 10, male six pair each 
Boots No 9 & 10. two pair Shoes for children of the age two and four 
years six pair each Hats 25 & 26 one of each 12 palm leaf hats for 
summer candle sticks & snuffers 12 each six large cow bells four pair 
coarse wool cards 2 hetchels [hatchels] 

Because it sometimes took two years to receive a reply 
to a letter, Whitman felt the necessity of ordering in quan- 
tity and for the future. 



194 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Another matter which the three missionaries certainly 
discussed was the future development of the country. They 
saw that the day was swiftly coming when white settlers 
would enter the country. Whitman in his letter of May 8, 
1838, expressed a fear that the wrong kind of colonists 
would come. Lee was carrying with him a memorial signed 
by twenty-seven Americans and French Canadians living in 
the Willamette Valley, asking for the extension of the juris- 
diction of the United States over that territory. 18 The me- 
morial declared: "The agriculture and other resources of 
the country cannot fail to induce immigration and com- 
merce." Both Whitman and Spalding were undoubtedly in 
sympathy with the memorial, and we wonder why their 
names do not appear with the others. Perhaps it was felt 
that they were too far removed from the Willamette Valley. 
Lee became a missionary colonizer, and his services in that 
respect far overshadowed what he was able to do for the 
Indians of the Willamette Valley. 

Lee bade his friends at Waiilatpu mission farewell on 
May 12. In his diary he described their parting : "We kneeled 
upon the bank of a small stream, and Mr. S. commended us 
to the throne of grace, we then took the parting hand, and 
they returned to their arduous labors ; and I pensively pur- 
sued camp, thankful for the pleasing acquaintance then 
formed." Lee carried with him several of the Whitman 
letters, including Mrs. Whitman's interesting letter dated 
April 11. 

MADAME DORION 

Among the visitors to Waiilatpu in the spring of 1838 
was Madame Dorion, the heroine of Washington Irving's 
Astoria. In the above-mentioned letter of Narcissa's, she 
wrote on April 19 : 

Saturday Mrs. Pambrun came with her three daughters, Maria, 
Ada, & Harriet, also two daughters & a son of an Iowa, the Old woman 
spoken of in Washington Irving's Astoria, (Perhaps Father has not 
seen the book, it contains a more just representation of this country 
than any other written previous.) She is now the wife of a Frenchman 
now residing at the Fort. She was here with the rest & spent the 
Sabbath & left today. Mr Lee arriving at Walla Walla on Friday 
came with them. 

Madame Dorion married John Toupin, a French Cana- 
dian, who was once used by Parker as an interpreter. They 



18 Bancroft, Oregon, Vol. 1, p. 169. The memorial was printed in 
25th Cong., 3rd Sess., H. Rept. 101. 



THE VERSATILE DOCTOR 195 

lived at Fort Walla Walla, where the Iowa woman became 
friendly with Mrs. Pambrun. In July, 1841, Father Blanchet 
performed a marriage service for Madame Dorion and John 
Toupin, thus putting the seal of the church upon a relation- 
ship which had existed for some time. Toupin also served as 
Pambrun's interpreter. 19 

Life at the Whitman mission station was not dull when 
such interesting guests were coming and going. It is most 
interesting to see how the influences of the lives of such 
well-known characters as Dr. McLoughlin, Tom McKay and 
his son William, Jason Lee, and Madame Dorion mingled 
with those of the Whitmans and the Spaldings. Like the 
bright strands of a richly ornamented tapestry, the shuttle 
of time wove them together in an historical picture of Old 
Oregon. 

THE SUMMER OF 1838 

The summer of 1838 passed swiftly for the Whitmans. So 
many tasks in the field, in the home, among the Indians, and 
elsewhere called for their strength and their attention. 
Whitman went to Lapwai in June to assist Spalding in 
building his new house on the banks of the Clearwater. Some 
sheep arrived from the Hawaiian Islands that summer. 
Evidence is rather conflicting regarding the number. On 
October 30, 1836, Whitman wrote to the Rev. Levi Cham- 
berlain of the American Board mission in Honolulu and re- 
ported that: "Five of the six sheep reached here in safety 
for which we feel very thankful as we value them highly." 
Writing to Judge Prentiss on April 8, 1845, Whitman said : 

"We have above eighty sheep All these came from one 

ewe brought from the Sandwich Islands in '38 and two more 
brought in '39." It may be that most of the sheep received 
in 1838 were sent to Lapwai, for Spalding once referred to 
receiving eight sheep in 1838. 20 

During the last week of June, Mr. and Mrs. McDonald 
and their family, of Fort Colville, spent a week with the 
Whitmans. Mrs. McDonald favored Mrs. Whitman in Janu- 
ary, 1838, with a gift of twelve fine pickled buffalo tongues. 
Narcissa found Mrs. McDonald, who was a native, to be an 
intelligent woman with a fair command of the English 
language. 



19 Defenbach, Red Heroines of the Northwest, has a chapter on 
Madame Dorion. Dates given for her life are 1786-1853. She married 
Toupin in 1824. Toupin was among the witnesses at the hearing of the 
murderers of Whitman. 

20 Drury, Spalding, p. 186. 



196 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Mrs. Whitman made two visits to Fort Walla Walla 
during the summer, called there by the illness of Mrs. 
Pambrun. Dr. Whitman was called to The Dalles early in 
August to see Mrs. Perkins, of the Methodist mission, who 
was critically ill. During his absence Sarah Hull, the Indian 
girl who had been living with the Whitmans for more than 
a year, died. "If ever I felt the presence of my husband 
necessary," wrote Narcissa, "it was while passing through 
such a scene." [Letter 52.] 

Mrs. Whitman also had in her home Margaret McKay, 
the daughter of Thomas McKay. Margaret is mentioned in 
Mrs. Whitman's letter of March 12, 1838, and probably was 
left at the mission station by her father when he was there 
with his sons. She remained at Waiilatpu assisting Mrs. 
Whitman in the household duties for more than a year. Later 
she is reported to have married Charles Roe, an American. 21 

Wednesday, July 11, 1838, was a red-letter day at 
Waiilatpu, for on that day arrived the first home mail. 
Writing to her sister Jane on September 18, Narcissa said : 
"You know not with what feelings of inexpressible joy I re- 
ceived your letter dated January and August, 1837, and sent 
from Leroy." Narcissa received letters from her father, her 
sisters Jane and Mary Ann, her brother-in-law, Lyman Jud- 
son, and from Mrs. Mather, the mother of Mrs. Satterlee. 
Dr. Whitman received several from his friends and relatives 
and at least two from Greene, of the American Board. Nar- 
cissa wrote: "Letters from Mr. Greene in July caused our 
hearts to sink, and we gave up all hopes of a reinforcement 
very soon joining us. [Letter 51.] In her letter to Judson, 
Narcissa gave the interesting news that Spalding had re- 
ceived a letter from "L Lynsley Prattsburg and his sister." 
Spalding had once been engaged to a Miss Levina Linsley, 
of Prattsburg. 22 

The Hawaiians who had been assisting Whitman from 
the very beginning of his work returned to Fort Vancouver, 
and two other men from the Islands arrived on June 28. 
[Letter 54.] One went to assist Spalding, while the other, 
Joseph Maki, remained at Waiilatpu. Maki was married 
and had his wife with him. 



21 Hines, History of Oregon, p. 139. Bancroft, Oregon, Vol. 1, p. 159, 
states that Roe married a Nancy McKay. 

22 Drury, Spalding, p. 39. The engagement was broken because of 
Miss Linsley's continued ill-health. She died Dec. 21, 1838. It is pos- 
sible that the word "his" in the quotation should be "her." Spalding's 
writing is difficult to decipher at times. 



THE VERSATILE DOCTOR 197 

At the request of Whitman, the Spaldings came to 
Waiilatpu, arriving there on Monday, August 13. Mrs. 
Spalding and their daughter accompanied him. Fearful of 
leaving his precious sheep behind at Lapwai, Spalding drove 
them all the way to Waiilatpu and back again. 23 He also 
drove along some milch cows. It is possible that Spalding 
reached Waiilatpu in time to take charge of the burial of 
Sarah Hull, who died on the llth. 

On Tuesday, August 14, Spalding began a series of 
religious meetings, which climaxed on Saturday, August 
18, in the organization of the First Church of Oregon. It 
appears that the members of the Methodist and the Ameri- 
can Board mission were observing Tuesday evenings for 
prayer in their separate stations. At the meeting held in the 
Whitman home July 24, Compo and the Hawaiian showed 
signs of a spiritual quickening. Narcissa called it a "melting 
season," referring to the tears of repentance. [Letter 54.] 
This induced Whitman to write to Spalding and urge him 
to visit Waiilatpu. Narcissa states that her husband then 
suggested the organization of a church. 

The charter members of the church were the four mis- 
sionaries and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Maki, who presented 
letters from the mission church in Honolulu which had been 
organized by the American Board missionaries there. Spald- 
ing was chosen pastor, and Dr. Whitman was the ruling elder. 
On Sunday, August 19, Charles Compo was married to the 
Nez Perce woman with whom he had been living, the mother 
of his eighteen-month-old son. Spalding officiated. Having 
thus fulfilled a necessary requirement as far as his private 
life was concerned, Compo was baptized and received into 
the church. According to Spalding's record in the minute 
book, Compo was "the first fruit of our missionary labor in 
this country." 24 The little boy was baptized and given the 
name John. 25 

The seven members of the newly organized church then 
observed the Lord's Supper. "It was a solemn and in- 
teresting season for us," wrote Narcissa. [Letter 54.] Pam- 



23 Spalding to Greene, Sept. 11, 1838. 

24 Drury, Spalding, pp. 186 ff ., gives details about the church, includ- 
ing a picture of the first record. The original minutes were published in 
the 1903 Minutes of the Synod of Wash., and republished by the Synod 
in their 1936 records. 

25 Seymour, Story of the Red Man, states that Billy Compo was still 
alive when that book was written (published in 1934) . Billy Compo was 
evidently a younger son, for the eldest was named John. 



198 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

brun was present and strongly advised Compo not to join 
the Protestant church, for Compo, like Pambrun, had been 
reared in the Roman Catholic faith. 

On the evening before the special meetings closed, word 
Was received from Gray that he was arriving soon with re- 
enforcements. Spalding, who was eager to be on his way 
back to Lapwai, decided to stay a few days longer and help 
welcome the new missionaries. On Tuesday, August 21, 
W. H. Gray, and his wife, formerly Mary Dix, of Ithaca, New 
York, reached Waiilatpu, having ridden ahead of the others 
in their party. It was just like Gray to push on in advance. 
With joy and eagerness, the Whitmans and the Spaldings 
received the two and heard their account of the trip. Gray 
told of the coming of the Rev. and Mrs. Elkanah Walker, 
the Rev. and Mrs. Gushing Eells, the Rev. and Mrs. A. B. 
Smith, and Mr. Cornelius Rogers. By that re-enforcement 
the personnel of the Oregon mission of the American Board 
grew to thirteen. It was never any larger. 

This sudden re-enforcement was more than the Whitmans 
and the Spaldings had dared to expect in the light of 
Greene's letters. The new workers were warmly received. 
Fortunately the gardens about Waiilatpu were bearing well, 
and the newcomers reveled in fresh vegetables, melons, and 
so forth, as had the Whitmans and Spaldings two years 
earlier. 



CHAPTER TEN 

A YEAR OF ADJUSTMENTS 
1838-1839 

THE THIRD year of the Oregon mission of the American 
Board was a year of peculiar trial and difficulty for the 
Whitmans. It was a time of necessary and painful adjust- 
ments. During the year they tasted of the overflowing cup 
of joy, and they drank the dregs of the most poignant sor- 
row that can come to any mother and father. 

Gradually they learned from Gray the story of his 
eventful trip East. Gray had ventured to cross the prairies 
ahead of the fur company's caravan, with the result that his 
party was attacked by Sioux Indians at Ash Hollow, Ne- 
braska, on August 7. His four Indian companions were 
killed, and Gray himself narrowly escaped being shot. The 
Sioux stole his horses. Through the intercession of a white 
man who happened to be with the Sioux, Gray was per- 
mitted to continue his journey. 

Greene was displeased when he learned of Gray's return. 
However, Gray assured the Board that it would be under no 
expense as far as his sojourn in the East was concerned. He 
returned to his native town of Fairfield, New York, where 
he enrolled in the Medical School, giving his home address 
as "Columbia, Oregon." It so happened that the Board had 
appointed two clergymen, the Rev. Elkanah Walker (1805- 
1877) and the Rev. Gushing Eells (1810-1878), as mission- 
aries to the Zulus in Africa, but because of native disturb- 
ances these men had been unable to go to their fields. 
Learning that they were willing to have their destination 
changed to Oregon, the Board, therefore, commissioned them 
to return with Gray. 

Gray wrote to Walker from Fairfield on December 18, 
1837, and gave information about the proposed journey 
across the mountains. From this letter we learn that the 
Board had promised to send out five couples in the summer 
of 1838, and had allowed three thousand dollars for expenses. 
Gray also stated that the Rev. Lyman P. Judson and his 
wife, Mary Ann Prentiss, a sister of Narcissa, were hoping 
to be in the party. Gray also wrote : "You will remember me 



200 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

in love to Mrs. Walker in the present or in prospect. Mrs. G. 
is yet to be found." 1 

Gray's perplexity as to "Mrs. G." was suddenly solved 
when he visited Mr. Parker at Ithaca, New York. According 
to one report, "he met Miss Mary Augusta Dix, a handsome 
stately brunette, on the evening of the 19th of February, 
1838, and became engaged to her the same evening. Six days 
later they were married, and on the morning of the 26th 
started westward to join the caravan of the American Fur 
Company." 2 

On March 5, Elkanah Walker married Miss Mary Rich- 
ardson (1811-1897), at Baldwin, Maine. On the same day 
at Holden, Massachusetts, Gushing Eells wedded Miss Myra 
Fairbanks (1805-1878). The two couples met for the first 
time on Saturday, March 17, 1838, in New York. The next 
day a special service was held in their honor in the Brick 
Church, of which Dr. Gardiner Spring was then pastor. The 
Rev. David Greene was present and gave them their 
instructions. 

The next day they met the Rev. Asa Bowen Smith (1809- 
1886) and his wife, Sarah Gilbert White Smith (1813-1855), 
who were also appointed to the Oregon mission. The Smiths 
were married March 15, so with the Grays, the re-enforce- 
ment consisted of four newly married couples. At Cincinnati, 
a young man twenty-three years old, Cornelius Rogers 
(1815-1843), 3 joined the party, although he did not receive 
his appointment as a missionary of the American Board 
until after his arrival in Oregon. The Judsons were unable 
to go, much to the Whitmans' disappointment when they 
heard of it. 

Parker wrote to Walker from Ithaca on February 19, 
1838, and gave the following advice in regard to travel : 

Brother Gray has put into my hands yours of the 8th ult. for the 
purpose of making a few statements from the experience I have had 
in traveling both routs, across the continent and around Cape Horn. I 
shall not go into detail, but only say, by all means go across the con- 
tinent by land. I had rather go across the continent three times than 
around the Cape once, and probably it would not take more time, nor 
be attended with half the dangers and hardships, as to go by water. 

1 Original, Coll. Wn. 

2 Obituary notice of W. H. Gray, Portland Oregonian, Nov. 15, 1889. 
Also Gray to Walker, Feb. 21, 1838: "I have not known till yesterday 
that I was to have a companion to go out with me." Original letter in 
Coll. Wn. 

3 Eells, Marcus Whitman, gives a brief biographical sketch of the 
members of the re-enforcement, pp. 320 ff. 



A YEAR OF ADJUSTMENTS 201 

You might be detained six months in the hot climate of the torrid zone, 
before an opportunity would present to go from the Sand. Isles. There 
need be no hesitation which way to go. A lady can go with far more 
comfort by land than by water. 4 

So the American Board sent its second party of Oregon 
missionaries, women included, overland. The trip of the 
four women with their husbands across the plains and over 
the mountains in 1838 would be far better known had it not 
been that Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Spalding anticipated them 
by two years. The travel conditions and attendant dangers 
were so similar that all of the praise spoken in behalf of the 
fortitude and courage of Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Spalding 
can be applied to the women of the 1838 re-enforcement as 
well." 5 

Judging from the letters and diaries of the members of 
this party, the trip was a most trying experience. Mrs. 
Walker made frequent mention in her diary of Mr. Smith's 
faultfinding. Gray was so domineering that no member of 
the re-enforcement would consent to live with him in the 
same station after their arrival on the field. 

On August 15, Gray and his wife left the party, pushed 
on ahead, and reached Waiilatpu a few days before the 
others. All were there by Wednesday, August 29. Since 
the Spaldings were eager to be on their way back to Lapwai, 
a mission meeting was called for Saturday, September 1. 
Thus, after only a two days' rest from a long and arduous 
trip and before they could grasp the real problems which 
confronted them, the three new clergymen were called upon 
to help determine some vital policies for the mission. 

Spalding was chosen Moderator and Walker was made 
Secretary. The original record, kept with a lead pencil on 
a piece of letter paper, was recently discovered. 6 In view of 
the issues decided, this meeting proved to be one of the most 
important ever held in the Oregon mission of the American 
Board. 

It was voted to give instruction to the natives in their 
own language. Whitman and Spalding had tried teaching 
the natives English but soon realized that this was imprac- 
tical. This vote was qualified by the statement : " . . . but for 



4 Coll. Wn. 

5 A detailed account of this trip will be given in the author's forth- 
coming book, the third of this series, on Elkanah Walker. 

6 Owned by Sam T. Walker, youngest son of Elkanah Walker, who 
still lives at Forest Grove, Oregon (April 4, 1937). These original min- 
utes, with other important Walker records, are now in Coll. Wn. 



202 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

their permanent benefit of the peoples we will introduce the 
English language as fast as expedient." Whitman and 
Spalding told of their experience in trying to get a book 
published by the missionaries of the Sandwich Islands, and 
of the offer of these missionaries to send to the Oregon mis- 
sion the old press, undoubtedly the one that Elisha Loomis 
took out in 1820. Hence the following action : "Voted that 
the press printer type paper & binding apparatus offered by 
the S. I. Mission be accepted." The fact that the mission on 
the Islands had a larger press made it possible for them to 
part with the old and smaller one. 

Considerable discussion centered about the distribution 
of the new workers. Because of the interest the Spokane 
Indians had manifested in having Christian workers live 
among them, it was decided to have Walker and Eells es- 
tablish a station there. The Smiths and Rogers were to live 
at Waiilatpu, and since nobody else wanted the Grays, Spald- 
ing consented to their living with him at Lapwai. It was 
also voted to establish a corn and flour mill, and a blacksmith 
shop at Lapwai because it was most centrally located. Since 
new supplies were urgently needed, Dr. Whitman was ap- 
pointed to visit Fort Vancouver to make the necessary pur- 
chases. A salary of twenty-five pounds per annum was 
voted for Rogers. 

Both Whitman and Spalding saw the necessity of settling 
the Indians, although Spalding was more enthusiastic on 
this point than Whitman. In Walker's first letter, sent back 
to Greene after his arrival at Waiilatpu, he stated: "It is 
too about made certain by actual experience that we must 
use the plough as well as the Bible if we do anything to 
benefit the Indians. They must be settled before they can 
be enlightened much." Later, serious differences of opinion 
developed in regard to this point and caused considerable 
friction within the mission. At first, however, the new ar- 
rivals accepted the judgment and experience of Whitman 
and Spalding. 

Monday, September 3, the men resumed their activities. 
Spalding made haste to leave for Lapwai ; Walker and Eells 
prepared to go to the Spokanes; and Whitman turned his 
attention to the many tasks that had to be completed before 
he could leave for Vancouver. On that day the women 
organized a Maternal Association, modeled after similar 
associations which were common at that time in the East. 
The following officers were chosen : President, Mrs. Spald- 



A YEAR OP ADJUSTMENTS 203 

ing; Corresponding Secretary, Mrs. Whitman; Recording 
Secretary, Mrs. Gray; and Vice President, Mrs. Walker. 
This association was kept alive all during the history of the 
Oregon mission. The membership was enlarged to include 
the native wives of some of the Hudson's Bay men. Mrs. 
Whitman was diligent in securing subscriptions for the 
Mother's Magazine and on one occasion sent in eighteen 
dollars for this purpose. [Letter 193.] 

On Tuesday the Spaldings, the Grays, Charles Compo, 
James Conner, a number of Nez Perces, together with 
Spalding's milch cows, sheep, horses, and pack animals 
started for Lapwai. Rogers remained at Waiilatpu until the 
20th of the month, and then he, too, went to Lapwai. 
Walker and Eells left on September 10 to explore for a mis- 
sion site among the Spokane Indians. The women remained 
with Narcissa. The men did not return to Waiilatpu until 
October 13, coming back by way of Lapwai, where they 
found Spalding digging his potatoes. Walker wrote in his 
diary on October 8, 1838 : "Mr. S. has a fine lot of potatoes ; 
and I think he will have at least 1500 bushels, 500 to the 
acre. I never saw any that turned out so well." 

Walker and Eells picked out a site on the trail which 
connected Fort Walla Walla with Fort Colville, about seventy 
miles south of the latter, and about twenty-five miles north- 
west of the present city of Spokane, Washington. The In- 
dians called the place Tshimakain, or "place of springs." The 
men started to build their cabins, and before they left were 
able to erect the walls for the two houses, each measuring 
about fourteen feet square. 

Whitman left for Fort Vancouver on Monday, September 
17, and was away for about a month, returning October 13. 
After his return to Waiilatpu, Whitman superintended and 
assisted in the erection of another adobe house. Profiting 
by his experience in being too near the stream, Whitman 
chose a site farther removed. The plans for his new house 
called for the erection of a story-and-a-half unit, which 
measured nineteen by forty feet, with the main axis running 
north and south. To the east was a one-story unit, which 
measured twenty-two by thirty feet. The two units joined 
to make a "T." That fall Whitman harvested "three hun- 
dred bushels of corn, seventy-five of wheat, and a thousand 
bushels of potatoes, besides a large supply of turnips and 
garden vegetables." [Letter 62.] 



204 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

FINANCIAL PROBLEMS 

On March 27, 1838, Whitman made out his financial 
report, covering the period from his previous report, which 
was dated March 18, 1837. He acknowledged receipt of two 
boxes of goods, shipped from Boston on January 18, 1837, 
which contained clothing, bedding, books, paper, and other 
supplies. The books formed the nucleus of the mission 
library, of which Spalding was librarian. 7 

Whitman then reported on his expenditures of 63.14.2^j 
and itemized his account as follows : 

Supplies Clothing & Indian Goods to pay for 

Provision &c& Transportation 29- 1- 1 

Farming utensils & Building Materials 11- 5- 9 

Clothing &c for a Boy living with me 3-14- 1 

Flour & Seeds & Hogs 10- 3- 6 

Bill at Walla Walla for last year Seeds & 

provisions &c 5- 8- 9 

One half of Mr. Grays expenses in the Flat Head 

Country & at Rendezvous 4- \.-Vz 

Whitman subtracted from this total the sum of 9.19.4^ 
which was his share of a cash contribution to the Oregon 
mission made by the "Society of Honolulu." Spalding re- 
ceived a like amount. Whitman also reported: "The avails 
of the sale of salt contributed by the King and his sisters at 
Oahu (one half) the other being reported by Mr. Spalding 
17-5-10." It is most interesting to find King Kamehameha 
III and his royal sisters listed among the contributors for 
the evangelization of the Oregon Indians. After subtracting 
these two cash gifts from the total required, Whitman found 
it necessary to draw upon the board for 130.15.11, to meet 
the balance of his and Spalding's expenses. 8 

To this bill Whitman added another charge of 58.3.10 
to pay wages due two men who worked for him from Sep- 
tember 21, 1836, to June 1, 1838, for 17.0.0 each per annum, 
and 0.12.0 due some Indians for such services as carrying 
letters. 

When we add Whitman's various expense accounts to- 
gether, we find that up to March 28, 1838, he drew upon the 
Board for 336.18.i/ 2 - According to Hill, treasurer of 
the American Board, every 100 cost the Board about 



7 Coll. W. contains a volume of Pilgrim's Progress, on the flyleaf of 
which in Spalding's handwriting is written: "Colm. Mission Library 
No. 44). 

8 Treasury Books of the American Board. Photostat copy, Coll. Wn. 



A YEAR OF ADJUSTMENTS 205 

$540. 9 This means that the cost of the Waiilatpu 
branch of the mission was somewhat more than $1,800 dur- 
ing the first two years. However, it must be remembered 
that this included everything building materials, wages, 
machinery, food supplies, Indian goods for trading, trans- 
portation, and salary (if indeed it is possible to speak of 
salary for either Whitman or Spalding). Considering the 
high rate of exchange and the excessive cost of transporta- 
tion up the river, we must admit that this figure is very low. 

Conservative as these figures were, still they brought 
dismay to the secretaries of the American Board. While 
Whitman and Spalding were making their extravagant 
demands upon the Board for 220 missionaries and goods in 
proportion, together with their legitimate claims for ex- 
penses, a letter was on its way to the Oregon mission from 
the Board, limiting each family to $500 a year. This letter 
was received in July, 1838, and bore the date of June 23, 1837. 
The original was found in the archives of Whitman College 
and was addressed to : "Rev. H. H. Spalding & Associates." 
Perhaps it was this letter which caused Narcissa to write : 
"Letters received from Mr. Greene in July caused our hearts 
to sink. [Letter 51.] 

We should remember that the financial depression of 
1837 seriously affected the receipts of the American Board. 
Faced with a heavy debt and lowered income, they simply 
had to retrench. The circular of June 23, 1837, which the 
Board sent out to Oregon, was likewise sent to all of its 
stations throughout the world. The draft which Spalding 
drew at Fort Vancouver on November 20, 1836, for 371 
reached the Board on July 5, 1837, a few days after the 
circular of June 23 had been prepared. Greene and Hill were 
dismayed to see the amount demanded. On July 6, each of 
them added a postscript to the circular. Greene wrote : "We 
were greatly surprised at your draft of 371 received by 
Mr. Hill yesterday. It is quite impossible for us to go on 
meeting such drafts in present circumstances." 

Greene exhorted them as follows : "More of the Brainard 
& Eliot mode of labor and extent of expenditure must be 
introduced and followed out." Brainard and Eliott were 
well-known missionaries to the Indians of the East of an 
earlier day. They made no efforts to settle the Indians and 
to introduce the arts of civilization but shared the nomadic 



9 American Board to Spalding, June 23, 1837. 



206 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

life of the Indians and taught and preached as occasion per- 
mitted. Such advice was contrary to the convictions of 
both Whitman and Spalding, who saw the necessity of set- 
tling the Indians. The fact that Whitman and Spalding 
each had a family made their situation far different from 
that of Brainard and Eliott. 

Samuel Parker had, perhaps unconsciously, placed both 
Whitman and Spalding in a bad light before the Board. It 
seems evident that soon after reaching the States in May, 
1837, he visited the Board rooms in Boston. He arrived at a 
time when the Board was struggling with finances. Perhaps 
he was there when Spalding's draft for 371 arrived. This 
we know, Greene quoted Parker in his note of July 6, 1837, 
to Spalding and Whitman. Greene wrote: "I write also of 
a remark of Mr. Parker, which he made on being informed 
of the expenses of your outfit and journey, without express- 
ing any opinion respecting its correctness: He remarked 
that he would pledge himself to outfit a mission of equal 
numbers, take them across the country, and sustain them 
in their work three years for the same amount, i. e., about 
$7,000.00." 

Parker appears to have been rather outspoken on the 
subject. A letter which he wrote to Greene from Ithaca, 
New York, dated October 16, 1837, tells of a visit he made 
to the Geneva Synod the first week of October. Parker was 
called upon to speak. Of this he wrote to Greene as follows : 

I told them that I was confident with judicious and economical 
management, the out-fit and expense of traveling through the States 
need not exceed 1500 dollars nor did I doubt from what I know of 
the Country with reference to what the mission might do for them- 
selves, kindness of the H.B. Co. that the mission might be sus- 
tained without additional expense for three years to come. 

Parker felt that Whitman and Spalding were far too 
free with their expenses. Greene and Hill, faced with stern 
realities in the Board rooms, were very susceptible to such 
suggestions. What would they have said if they had then 
known that additional drafts already drawn for a total of 
nearly sixteen hundred dollars were then on their way? 

And what did Whitman and Spalding say to each other 
when they read the circular of June 27, 1837, with the post- 
scripts by Greene and Hill, and remembered that in addition 
to the extra drafts sent in was the demand for 220 addi- 
tional missionaries and goods in proportion ? It would prob- 
ably be even more interesting if we knew Greene's reaction 
to that joint letter of April 21, 1838. 



A YEAR OF ADJUSTMENTS 207 

Spalding sent in a lengthy letter to Greene on September 
10, 1838, in which he argued in favor of their policy to settle 
the Indians. He pointed out the necessity of the mission- 
aries' becoming self-supporting, thus being independent. of 
the Hudson's Bay Company. Therefore, the necessity of 
heavy initial expenses for livestock, mill machinery, and so 
forth. He ventured to assert that he and Whitman could 
make their stations self-supporting within ten years. 

Parker's remark roiled him, and Spalding made some 
uncomplimentary statements about Parker's methods. Nor 
did he approve of the suggestion that they practice the 
methods of Brainard and Eliot. We can sense his indigna- 
tion as he pushed his quill pen across the paper : "Did they 
take their wives hundreds of miles into the wilderness & 
then go off for supplies of provisions 100 or 200 miles & 
leave them perhaps with young babes for weeks alone 

among the savages, I have done this Did they eat horse 

beef, so do we." 

Whitman wrote to Greene on October 30 and said: "I 
think Brother Spalding & myself will find no difficulty in 
getting on with $1000. between us & taking that as a guide 
the other Brethren intend to govern themselves by it & not 
exceed $500 a piece." The heavier initial expenses having 
already been met, both men felt they could live on the stipu- 
lated sum. Figures show that some years they did not 
draw the full amount allowed. 

In May, 1839, Francis Ermatinger, of the Hudson's Bay 
Company, visited the Whitmans, and repeated some gossip 
common among the men of his company regarding Mr. 
Parker. This seems to have been the reason why Whitman 
wrote his letter of May 10 to Greene, which is the most 
caustic letter that we have, penned by him. Whitman rarely 
wrote long letters, yet here he wrote twenty-six hundred 
words. Whitman rarely engaged in criticism of others, yet 
this letter was biting in its judgment of Parker. He wrote : 

As there has been many incorrect representations concerning the 
facilities for obtaining supplies, etc., in this country, I hope you will 
pardon me while I represent in some measure our situation and the 
policy by which we have been governed. And in the first place, as you 
introduce Rev. Samuel Parker as authority for stating we might have 
saved expense, I will venture to make a few statements respecting 
his policy in this country and in his general tour of exploration. 

Whitman refuted Parker's criticism by telling of Parker's 
methods. "If Mr. Parker," he declared, "was to contract to 
take a party across the mountains and sustain them in this 



208 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

field, I think no one would be found satisfied with the ar- 
rangements he would make." In brief, both Whitman and 
Spalding were in full agreement as to their policy. Both 
felt the necessity of making their stations self-supporting, 
and both saw the importance of settling the Indians. There- 
fore, they felt fully justified in making the large initial 
expenditures. 

According to Whitman's financial report, dated May 10, 
1839, the mission kept its total expenses for that year down 
to 595.1.0, which was a little less than an average of 
100.0.0 for each of the six families. Of this amount Whit- 
man took 118.19.10 as his share, which was itemized as 
follows : 

Family supplies building materials Farming Da., 
Provisions Medicines Indian Goods Trans- 
portation 67- 8-4 

One sixth of the General Expense for Black Smith 
Shop Mill Irons, Steel for ploughs, Hoes, Chains, 
etc. Bolt Cloth Hire of a Smith, Transportation 17-17-2 

Labour 21- 3-4 

Passage of an Hawaiian & wife from the Sandwich 
Isl 12-10-0 

Whitman's expenses included the cost of boarding the 
three clergymen of the re-enforcement and their wives 
during the winter of 1838-39. 10 

MEN IN THE KITCHEN 

More difficult than even the financial problem was that 
of making the necessary personal adjustments with the 
members of the re-enforcement with whom the Whitmans 
were obliged to share their home. The primitive conditions 
under which they were living made it easy for personalities 
to rub against each other. The fact that these people were 
missionaries did not mean that they were perfect. They 
all had their faults, and these sometimes became most an- 
noying to others. No better test of Christian forbearance 
has ever been devised than that of making two or more 
families live under the same roof and share the same kitchen. 
It is especially difficult when surrounded by peoples of an- 
other culture, race, or tongue, thus forcing them upon each 
other's society all the more. Modern-day missionaries on 
the foreign field will testify to this point. 

During the beautiful days of the early fall, Narcissa did 



10 See Appendix 2 for a summary of Whitman's expenses for each 
year of the mission. 



A YEAR OF ADJUSTMENTS 209 

not mind the crowded conditions so much. She was happy 
to have the new workers present. The men were outside 
most of the time. After Whitman's return from Vancouver, 
the men worked hard on the new adobe house and were able 
to finish a part of it before the winter started. Mr. and Mrs. 
Smith moved into it on December 4. The Walkers and the 
Eells stayed with the Whitmans. There was no other place 
for them to go. 

When the winter rains came and the days grew cold and 
disagreeable, all naturally sought the warmth and comfort of 
Narcissa's kitchen. Mr. Walker smoked, much to Narcissa's 
disgust. Narcissa wrote to her sister Jane and mentioned 
her difficulties. She asked : "... now how do you think I 
have lived with such folks right in my kitchen for the whole 
winter?" [Letter 63.] 

The other side of the picture is to be found in some of the 
Walker correspondence and in Mrs. Walker's diary. After 
Walker and Eells left for their exploring trip, Mr. Walker 
wrote back to his wife and gave the following good advice : 
"Remember that you are not Mistress of the house & you 
have nothing you can call your own that you are entirely 
dependent upon others." 11 Mrs. Walker in her diary men- 
tions several little points of friction. She complained about 
the necessity of doing her washing in the afternoon. Another 
time she mentioned Mrs. Whitman's being "quite out with 
Mr. Smith" over the services of a hired man. Writing to 
her husband on October 8, Mrs. Walker declared that she 
felt more reconciled to her lot than did Mrs. Eells. "She 
does not seem to like Mrs. Whitman very well." She also 
stated : 

Mr. Roger writes us that Dr. Gray is the same as ever & so far 
as we can discover is trying to prejudice Mr. Spalding against him as 
much as he can. I am glad we are going to the new station. Hope we 
shall be able to enjoy more peace than these the other stations have. 

It is rather interesting to see Mrs. Walker refer to Gray 
as Dr. Gray. In looking through her diary, covering the trip 
out from the States, we find the title occurring several times. 
Gray induced the Board to list him as a "Physician and 
Mechanic" in the Missionary Herald for 1838. Whitman 
was irritated when he learned of it and wrote to Greene on 
October 22, 1839, saying in part : "I cannot conceive how you 
have been imposed upon to report him a physician. What 
can a man learn in sixteen weeks of public lectures (which 



11 Originals in Coll. Wn. 



210 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

is barely all he can boast) , to entitle him to that distinction." 
Evidently Dr. Whitman corrected Mrs. Walker, for she 
dropped the title "Dr." soon after their arrival and there- 
after referred to Gray as "Mr. Gray." 

One cannot help being impressed with the consistency 
with which the various members of the mission referred to 
each other in their letters and diaries. They never used one 
another's first name. They always used the proper title with 
the last name, although sometimes Dr. Whitman would be 
called "Doct." 

These letters and diaries throw considerable light upon 
the Whitman home. Mrs. Eells, writing on October 4, 1838, 
stated: "Mrs. W. & S. have obtained some earthern dishes 
but think it is doubtful whether we can have any untill we 
order them from England or the States." 12 Mrs. Walker 
wrote in her diary of Mrs. Whitman's making soap, dipping 
candles, washing, and ironing. Mrs. Walker's diary is most 
revealing of the difficulties which developed in the crowded 
household at Waiilatpu. On Friday, December 7, Mrs. 
Walker gave birth to a son who was called Cyrus Hamlin. 
He was the second boy born west of the Rockies of American 
parentage, who lived to maturity. 13 Of course Mrs. Walker's 
confinement meant extra work for Mrs. Whitman. 

In view of all of these circumstances, we can read the 
following extract from one of Narcissa's letters with a 
sympathetic spirit : 

We need help very much, and those who will pray, too. In this we 
have been disappointed in our helpers last come, particularly the two 
Revs, who have gone to the Flatheads. They think it not good to have 
too many meetings, too many prayers, and that it is wrong and 
unseemly for a woman to pray where there are men, and plead the 
necessity for wine, tobacco, etc.; and now how do you think I have 
lived with such folks right in my kitchen for the whole winter? If you 
can imagine my feelings you will do more than I can to describe. 
[Letter 63.] 

On the whole this is an unpleasant side of the Whitman 
story, but in the light of later events it is too important to 
be omitted. The friction which developed within the mission 
had important consequences. 



12 Eells, Father Eells, p. 76. The Oregon Historical Society has a 
piece of broken plate found at Waiilatpu after the massacre. It is white 
with a blue border, presented by Nineveh Ford, a pioneer of 1843. 

13 The first boy born of American parents west of the Rockies who 
lived to maturity was Joseph Beers, born Sept. 15, 1837. Cyrus Walker 
died at Albany, Oregon, May 5, 1921. 



A YEAR OF ADJUSTMENTS 211 

TUCANNON 

Spalding began some special meetings in December, 1838, 
which continued into the following January. His first two 
converts were influential chiefs whom he called Joseph and 
Timothy. In later years Joseph "returned back to Egypt," 
but Timothy was true to the end. 14 The response in these 
meetings was so encouraging that Spalding sent Lawyer, 
whom he and Whitman met at the rendezvous in the summer 
of 1836, to Waiilatpu for Whitman. 

Whitman left for Lapwai on January 1, and arrived 
there on the 4th. He found some two thousand of the Nez 
Perces present, and taking the greatest interest in the 
religious services. Many of them showed genuine signs of 
repentance and conversion. Whitman admired Spalding's 
ability to use the language and became convinced of the 
necessity for him to spend more time in its study. He felt 
that this was almost impossible as long as he was burdened 
with so many duties at Waiilatpu. 

Whitman and Spalding talked about the matter. The 
details of the conversation are lacking, but from subsequent 
events it appears that an arrangement was made with Timo- 
thy, whose people lived on the creek now called Alpowa, 15 
about twelve miles west of the present city of Lewiston, 
Idaho. Timothy was a faithful soul and on many occasions 
showed his friendship for the white man. It was agreed 
that Whitman would return for his wife and child and that 
the three would then meet Timothy and his people on the 
Tucannon Creek, a tributary of the Snake on the south. 
Whitman would then have uninterrupted time for language 
study. 

Whitman left Lapwai on January 10 and reached his 
home on the 15th. He found his wife most agreeable to the 
plan. Writing to her sister Jane, she declared: "He had 
no difficulty to persuade me to accompany him, for I was 
nearly exhausted, both in body and mind, in the labour and 
care of our numerous family." 

Preparations were made at once to leave, and on Tuesday, 
January 22, 1839, the Whitman family started on its journey 
of fifty miles or more to the Tucannon. Alice Clarissa was 



14 McBeth, The Nez Perces Since Lewis and Clark, p. 63. 

15 Alpowa is a derivative of the Nez Perce word for "sabbath." 
Timothy named his village Alpowa because his people kept the Sab- 
bath. Today the bridge spanning the creek is dedicated to Timothy. 



212 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

then nearly two years old. Mr. and Mrs. Eells, Margaret 
McKay, and Mrs. Walker accompanied them for about three 
miles on their journey. The Whitmans were glad for the 
vacation, and the following extract from Mrs. Walker's 
diary describes her feeling : "Mrs. W. has dealt so largely in 
powder and balls of late that perhaps her absence will not 
detract much from our happiness." 

The weather was mild, even quite warm for that time of 
the year. After a pleasant journey of three days, the Whit- 
mans encamped among the Nez Perces on the Tucannon. 
Soon afterwards the weather turned cold, and snow fell. The 
Whitmans lived in a tent which Marcus tried to make com- 
fortable by building a fire at its entrance. For a time the 
smoke affected Alice's eyes. Marcus then built a small lodge 
over the fire to draw off the smoke. 

Sunday, January 27, was an interesting day. Narcissa 
gave the following description of one of the services : 

At midday I was present. Husband talked to them of the parable of 
the rich man and Lazarus; all listened with eager attention. After 
prayer and singing, an opportunity was given for those who had heavy 
hearts under a sense of sin, and only those, to speak if they wished it. 
For a few moments all sat in silence ; soon a prominent and intelligent 
man named Timothy broke the silence with sobs weeping. He arose, 
spoke of his great wickedness, and how very black his heart was ; how 
weak and insufficient he was of himself to effect his own salvation; 
that his only dependence was in the blood of Christ to make him clean 
and save his soul from sin and hell. He was followed by a brother, 
who spoke much to the same effect. Next came the wives of the first 
and of the second, who seemed to manifest deep feelings. 

Several others followed; one in particular, while confessing her 
sins, her tears fell to the ground so copiously that I was reminded of 
the weeping "Mary who washed her Saviour's feet with her tears." All 
manifested much deep feeling; some in loud sobs and tears; others in 
anxious and solemn countenance. You can better imagine my feelings 
than I can describe them on witnessing such a scene in heathen lands. 
They had but recently come from the meeting at Brother Spalding's. 
[Letter 63.] 

Narcissa liked the Nez Perces. She wrote that they were 
"not so hardened in sin; or, rather, they were not so proud 
a people as our people, the Wieletpoos." It was with great 
thankfulness of heart that Marcus and Narcissa witnessed 
the first fruits of their mission labors among the natives. 
That evening Narcissa sat in the door of her tent and wrote 
the following to her sister Jane : 

0, my dear Jane, could you see us here this beautiful eve, the full 
moon shining in all her splendor, clear, yet freezing cold, my little one 
sleeping by my side, husband at worship with the people within hearing, 



A YEAR OF ADJUSTMENTS 213 

and I sitting in the "door of the tent" writing, with my usual clothing 
except a shawl, and handkerchief on my head, and before me a large 
comfortable fire in the open air. Do you think we suffer? No, dear 
Jane; I have not realized so much enjoyment for a long time as I have 
since I have been here. [Letter 63.] 

The Whitmans stayed at Tucannon into the third week 
and returned to Waiilatpu on Saturday, February 9. Mrs. 
Walker noted their return in her diary and added: "Adieu 
to peace and order." 

MISSION BUSINESS 

On Monday, February 11, Walker and Smith left for 
Lapwai. Mrs. Walker's letters and diary speak of the un- 
happy situation in the Whitman home. On February 12, she 
wrote to her husband, saying in part : 

Mrs. W. presented herself at table this morning which if I am not 
silly to mention it is spread without a cloth. I was so provoked at this 
fresh mark of disrespect as I deem it that I was half tempted not to eat. 
It was true she had no brown cloth ironed but she has plenty white ones. 
If she does not begin to put away her bad heart now I am resolved 
to call her to account & if I have wronged her know what my offense is. 
Tomorrow is our maternal meeting & if she wears as much of Cain's 
countenance as usual I do not think I will unite with her in prayer. 

That evening Mrs. Whitman in great agitation went to 
Mrs. Walker and sought a reconciliation. It appears that 
Mrs. Whitman felt that Mrs. Walker had been unapprecia- 
tive of things done for her. The frank heart-to-heart talk 
eased much of the tension, yet Mrs. Whitman remained in 
her room most of the remainder of the week. Mrs. Walker 
wrote a full account of what took place in her letter of 
February 17 to her husband. 16 

In the meantime the men of the mission who had gathered 
at Lapwai found that since there were so many differences 
of opinion on important points, it was best to call a special 
meeting of the mission to settle them. Consequently a mes- 
senger was sent to Waiilatpu, requesting the presence at 
Lapwai of Whitman and Eells. When this messenger reached 
Waiilatpu, Mrs. Whitman decided to accompany her hus- 
band. They left for Lapwai on February 22. Alice Clarissa 
was taken along. It was her second visit to Lapwai. 

Spalding's diary throws considerable light upon the diffi- 
culties which then existed. He speaks of the ill feeling 
existing between Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Gray. Soon after 
the arrival of the re-enforcements, Mr. Gray, without his 



16 Coll. Wn. 



214 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

wife's knowledge or consent, let it be known that they were 
expecting an addition to the family. According to Spalding, 
Mrs. Gray blamed Mrs. Whitman for communicating the 
fact to others. Mrs. Gray seemed to think that it was an- 
other case of a doctor's wife telling secrets. "A very little 
matter," wrote Spalding, "to cause such a difficulty." 17 

It is rather interesting to note how Mrs. Whitman be- 
came a focal point of difficulty during those months follow- 
ing the arrival of the re-enforcements. We happen to have 
source material to show how Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Gray 
felt toward her. If similar material were available, perhaps 
we would learn that Mrs. Eells and Mrs. Smith felt the same. 
On several occasions it appears that Mrs. Whitman inspired 
her husband to speak up in defense of what she thought 
were their rights. 

The men gathered in their mission meeting on February 
22. Spalding was again the Moderator, and Walker was the 
Scribe. Spalding was reproved for marrying a white man 
to a Nez Perce woman. Spalding's defense was that since 
the two were already living together, he thought a marriage 
service would help. A difficulty which had arisen between 
Whitman and Smith had to be settled. Spalding wrote to 
Greene on October 15, 1842, of this incident as follows : 

Mr. Smith declared that he would leave the Mission rather than be 
connected with Dr. Whitman, and when it was found impossible to 
associate the two together Dr. Whitman consented to leave the station 
to Mr. Smith and commence a new one on the Tukana, where he would 
be central as physician. 

There was a long debate on this point. Spalding was in 
favor of Dr. Whitman's being more centrally located. Smith 
wanted to move to Kamiah, about sixty miles up the Clear- 
water from Lapwai, but this proposal was rejected. Finally 
it was decided to have the Smiths take over the Waiilatpu 
station, while the Whitmans would move to the Tucannon, 
or to the Palouse, a stream which puts into the Snake from 
the north. Later Mrs. Whitman was of the opinion that 
Spalding was largely responsible for this vote. She wrote 
to her father on October 10, 1840, and said: "Every mind 
in the mission that he has had access to, he has tried to 
prejudice against us, and did succeed for a while, which was 
the cause of our being voted to remove and form a new 
station." 

The mission also voted to locate the printing press at 



17 Spalding's diary, unpublished, is in Coll. W. 



A YEAR OF ADJUSTMENTS 215 

Lapwai when it should come. Perhaps the fact that Spalding 
was acquainted with the printing trade influenced this de- 
cision. The mission closed its meeting on Tuesday, February 
26. Outwardly it appeared that all problems had been solved, 
but later events proved that this was not the case. 

Walker and Eells returned to Waiilatpu as soon as they 
could and began making arrangements to leave for Tshima- 
kain. Dr. Whitman was detained at Lapwai. Since he de- 
sired Spalding to accompany him in searching for a new 
location, it was agreed that Mrs. Whitman should remain 
with the Spaldings while he would return to Waiilatpu. They 
fixed upon a meeting place for Thursday, March 7, and then 
Whitman hurried back to Waiilatpu. 

He reached his home about sunrise on March 5. Mr. and 
Mrs. Walker and their son Cyrus and Mr. and Mrs. Eells left 
at noon that day for their new station. Mrs. Walker wrote 
for that day in her diary. "Dr. W. accompanied us to our 
first encampment, about five miles. We talked with him all 
that time would allow and he left us feeling much better 
than when he came home." Dr. Whitman was troubled over 
the lack of harmony which existed. 

Dr. Whitman met his wife and the Spaldings as they had 
agreed. On the 8th, the Walker-Eells party arrived. The 
four men discussed the advisability of having the Whitmans 
move. 18 It seems evident that there was a lack of enthusiasm 
on the subject. The next day Whitman and Spalding ex- 
plored the region about the mouth of the Palouse but found 
it unfavorable. They spent Sunday with the Indians, and on 
Monday the Spaldings started back to Lapwai, leaving Dr. 
Whitman undecided. 

On the 23rd of the month we find Spalding writing in his 
diary that Whitman and Smith had arrived at his station. 
He speaks of the "long consultation" which was held. They 
left again on the 25th. On April 1, Spalding noted that the 
Whitmans had written of their decision to remain at 
Waiilatpu. "Everything seems to be settled," wrote Spald- 
ing. "Hope it will remain so and that they may work to- 
gether." 

April was seedtime, and the men in all of the stations 
were busy with farmwork. On the 24th, the Spaldings 



!8 Mrs. Walker's diary for Sat., March 9 : "Dr. W. and wife and 
Mr. Spaulding with the babes came to meet us at our crossing place. 
Had not a remarkably pleasant interview with them. Parted without 
a social prayer." 



216 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

started for Waiilatpu to meet Mr. and Mrs. E. 0. Hall, who 
were bringing the printing press and equipment from the 
Sandwich Islands. To Spalding's joy he found that Whitman 
and Smith had settled their difficulties and were on good 
terms. Spalding wrote in his diary: "Doubtless they have 
all prayed more & talked less. May the Lord continue this 
peace." The Smiths were then planning to spend the summer 
in Lawyer's country at Kamiah. Lawyer was very service- 
able as a teacher, and Smith soon came to have the best 
mastery of the language of any in the mission. He was an 
able scholar. 

The Halls arrived at Walla Walla on April 29. Mrs. Hall 
was an invalid, being afflicted with a spinal irritation which 
left her almost helpless. She could sit up only a little. It 
was thought that the trip would be beneficial to her health, 
although we are somewhat amazed to think that Mr. Hall 
would take an invalid wife on such a long and difficult jour- 
ney. Narcissa mentioned in her letter of May 17 to Jane, 
that Mrs. Hall "appears just like L. Linsley." 19 

The members of the Oregon mission were happy over 
the arrival of the press. The Spalding party with the press 
reached Lapwai on May 13. There it remained until 1846, 
when it was taken to The Dalles. After the Whitman Massa- 
cre it was taken to the home of the Rev. J. S. Griffin near 
Hillsboro, Oregon, and used to print the eight numbers of 
an early Oregon newspaper called the Oregon American and 
Evangelical Unionist. The press is now on display in the 
rooms of the Oregon Historical Society. 

ALICE CLARISSA WHITMAN 

On March 14, 1838, Narcissa wrote to her parents, in 
which letter we find this sentence: "Mother will see from 
the date of this letter and remember with interest the 
events of it, thirty years previous, as I do but one year ago 
to-day." Alice was then one year old. What a joy she was 
to her mother! Narcissa reported that the little girl was 
able to say a number of words, including "Papa," "Mamma," 



19 Levina Linsley to whom Spalding was once engaged. 

20 According to Edward Eberstadt, of New York, there were nine 
numbers printed on this press. For a time the press was stored in 
Griffin's barn and moved to Portland about 1888. Dr. E. E. Hubert, of 
Portland, examined the wood base of the press for me. The two large 
blocks to which the metal parts are fastened are white oak. The legs 
and supporting framework are Douglas fir. No pieces of wood in it 
originated either in Hawaii or Idaho. 



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GROUND FLOOR PLAN OF THE WHITMAN HOME AT WAIILATPU. 

Sent by Mrs. Whitman to her mother in her letter of May 2, 1840. Orig- 
inal in Coll. O. An imperfect copy appeared in T.O.P.A., 1891, p. 137. 
The plan was drawn by Asahel Munger. Mrs. Whitman wrote the ex- 
planation. One of the Sager girls called it a "large white house." Clark, 
Pioneer Days, Vol. 2, p. 508. 




HENRY HARMON SPALDING. 

With the Bible and the Hoe. 

It is believed that this is the earliest of a number of Spalding photographs 
and that this is the first time this picture has been published. On April 
21, 1838, Spalding wrote to the American Board: "...while we point 
them with one hand to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of 
the world, we believe it to be equally our duty to point with the other to 
the hoe, as the means of saving their famishing bodies from an untimely 
grave & furnishing the means of subsistence to future generations." This 
photograph demonstrates Spalding's philosophy of his missionary work. 

By courtesy of Pacific University, Forest Grove, Oregon. 



A YEAR OF ADJUSTMENTS 217 

"Sarah," and "pussy." She was also learning to walk. Nar- 
cissa wrote : 

She is as large and larger than some of the native children of two 
years old. Her strength, size and activity surprises the Indians very 
much. They think it is owing to theirs being laced on their te-cashes 
(as they call the board they use for them), motionless night and day, 
that makes their children so weak and small when compared with her. 

On April 11, Narcissa wrote again to her parents and 
again spoke of her child. "My Clarissa is my own little com- 
panion from day to day, and dear daughter." Again, "She is 
her mothers constant companion, & appears to be very 

lonely if she is out of her sight but for few moments 

Dear child, she is a great solace & comfort to her mother 
in her lonely hours & God grant she may live still to con- 
tinue so." 21 In this letter Narcissa ordered flannel dresses, 
shoes, and some ready-made clothing for her daughter. She 
also requested that "the name of Alice Clarissa Whitman, 
born Wieletpoo, 0. Territory, March 14, 1837, be placed in 
father's family Bible." 

The letters which Narcissa sent to her loved ones in the 
fall of 1838 bear frequent reference to little Alice. The 
following is typical : 

Yes, Jane, you cannot know how much of a comfort our little 
daughter, Alice Clarissa, is to her father and mother. 0, how many 
melancholy hours she has saved me, while living here alone so long, 
especially when her father is gone for many days together. I wish 
most sincerely that her aunts could see her, for surely they would love 
her as well as her parents. She is now eighteen months old, very large, 
and remarkably healthy. She is a great talker. Causes her mother 
many steps and much anxiety. She is just beginning to sing with us 
in our family worship. The moment singing commences, if she is not 
in her mother's arms, she comes to me immediately and wishes me to 
take her, especially if it is a Nez Perces hymn that we are singing. We 
have but three or four of them, and sing them every day, and Alice 
has become so familiar with them that she is repeating some part of 
them most of the time. Situated as I am, I know not how I shall succeed 
in training her as I ought. So many Indians and children are con- 
stantly in and about our house, and recently I discover her much in- 
clined to imitate and talk with them, or they with her. It makes them 
very much pleased to think she is going to speak their language so 
readily. They appear to love her much. [Letter 51.] 

As Narcissa was writing about an eleven-year-old boy 
by the name of Mungo Mevway, 22 who was living with them, 



21 From Whitman Letter 46. This was printed in T.O.P.A., 1891, 
but at least a thousand words were omitted. The quotation above is 
from the part not published. 

22 Mungo Mevway is mentioned in Whitman Letter 54. His mother 
was a native and his father a Hawaiian. He had been living with 
the Whitmans for about a year. 




HENRY HARMON SPALDING. 
With the Bible and the Hoe. 

It is believed that this is the earliest of a number of Spalding 1 photographs 
and that this is the first time this picture has been published. On April 
21, 18.'58, Spalding wrote to the American Board: "...while we point 
them with one hand to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of 
the world, we believe it to be equally our duty to point with the other to 
the hoe, as the means of saving their famishing bodies from an untimely 
grave & furnishing the means of subsistence to future generations." This 
photograph demonstrates Spalding's philosophy of his missionary work. 

By courtesy of Pacific University, Forest Grove, Oregon. 



A YEAR OF ADJUSTMENTS 217 

"Sarah," and "pussy." She was also learning to walk. Nar- 
cissa wrote : 

She is as large and larger than some of the native children of two 
years old. Her strength, size and activity surprises the Indians very 
much. They think it is owing to theirs being laced on their te-cashes 
(as they call the board they use for them), motionless night and day, 
that makes their children so weak and small when compared with her. 

On April 11, Narcissa wrote again to her parents and 
again spoke of her child. "My Clarissa is my own little com- 
panion from day to day, and dear daughter." Again, "She is 
her mothers constant companion, & appears to be very 
lonely if she is out of her sight but for few moments. . . . 
Dear child, she is a great solace & comfort to her mother 
in her lonely hours & God grant she may live still to con- 
tinue so." 21 In this letter Narcissa ordered flannel dresses, 
shoes, and some ready-made clothing for her daughter. She 
also requested that "the name of Alice Clarissa Whitman, 
born Wieletpoo, 0. Territory, March 14, 1837, be placed in 
father's family Bible." 

The letters which Narcissa sent to her loved ones in the 
fall of 1838 bear frequent reference to little Alice. The 
following is typical : 

Yes, Jane, you cannot know how much of a comfort our little 
daughter, Alice Clarissa, is to her father and mother. O, how many 
melancholy hours she has saved me, while living here alone so long, 
especially when her father is gone for many days together. I wish 
most sincerely that her aunts could see her, for surely they would love 
her as well as her parents. She is now eighteen months old, very large, 
and remarkably healthy. She is a great talker. Causes her mother 
many steps and much anxiety. She is just beginning to sing with us 
in our family worship. The moment singing commences, if she is not 
in her mother's arms, she comes to me immediately and wishes me to 
take her, especially if it is a Nez Perces hymn that we are singing. We 
have but three or four of them, and sing them every day, and Alice 
has become so familiar with them that she is repeating some part of 
them most of the time. Situated as I am, I know not how I shall succeed 
in training her as I ought. So many Indians and children ai'e con- 
stantly in and about our house, and recently I discover her much in- 
clined to imitate and talk with them, or they with her. It makes them 
very much pleased to think she is going to speak their language so 
readily. They appear to love her much. [Letter 51.] 

As Narcissa was writing about an eleven-year-old boy 
by the name of Mungo Mevway,' 22 who was living with them, 



21 From Whitman Letter 46. This was printed in T.O.P.A., 1891, 
but at least a thousand words were omitted. The quotation above is 
from the part not published. 

22 Mungo Mevway is mentioned in Whitman Letter 54. His mother 
was a native and his father a Hawaiian. He had been living with 
the Whitmans for about a year. 



218 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Alice interrupted and laid a soiled childish hand upon the 
letter paper. "You see, Jane," wrote Narcissa, "Alice has 
come and laid her dirty hands on this paper, and given it a 
fine mark. I send it as it is, so that you may have some of 
her doings to look at, and realize, perhaps, there is such a 
child in existence." The originals of most of the Whitman 
letters published in the Transactions of the Oregon Pioneer 
Association are in the archives of the Oregon Historical 
Society. But when search was made for the original of this 
letter to see the handprint of Alice Clarissa Whitman, it was 
discovered that the original was missing. 

Judging from a proud mother's letters, Alice was unusu- 
ally bright. She knew some Bible verses when she was but 
two years old and was able to repeat them at family worship. 
Frequently she called for the hymns which were to be sung. 
Narcissa spent many an hour with the little girl, talking 
about all of her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins 
far away in the States. The bond which binds parent to 
child is always strong in normal, healthy individuals, but it 
is especially so when circumstances deny either or both the 
inspiration of suitable companions. In lonely hours a mother 
will hungrily monopolize the child's attention; so was it 
with Narcissa and little Alice. An appreciation of this 
situation will aid us in understanding the poignancy of 
sorrow which came to Narcissa on Sunday, June 23, 1839. 

As has been mentioned, the Walla Walla River flowed a 
few rods from the Whitman home. Marcus and Narcissa 
were aware of the danger of the stream as they saw their 
little girl learning to walk and watched her active feet 
carry her about the house and dooryard. On the Friday 
before the tragedy, the Doctor and his wife were working in 
their vegetable garden with Alice trying in her baby ways 
to be of assistance. Dr. Whitman happened to pull up a 
radish which Alice picked up and ran away with. Her 
parents supposed that she had gone to the house and when 
they returned they were startled to find that she was not 
there. They hurried to the stream, where they found the 
little girl washing the radish in the water. 

Narcissa once wrote that in order to frighten the child, 
her father had once put her into the water. "We had lost," 
wrote Narcissa, "that feeling of anxiety for her in a measure 
on its account." [Letter 64.] Marcus and Narcissa were 
"horror-stricken," to use Narcissa's term, to find the child 
by the stream. They both talked to her of the danger of the 



A YEAR OF ADJUSTMENTS 219 

stream. Some weeks before, Dr. Whitman had felt obliged 
to drown a sick dog, called Boxer, with which Alice had often 
played. Alice had witnessed the event, so that evening after 
her mother had repeated the warning, the child said : "Alice 
fall in water, Alice she die like Boxer mamma have no 
Alice." Narcissa clasped the child to her breast as she 
thought of the dreaded possibility, and repeated the warning. 
[Letter 67.] 

On Sunday morning, June 23, Narcissa awakened her 
daughter with a kiss. The child slowly opened her eyes, and 
then, seeing her mother, stretched up her pudgy arms. 
Narcissa bent over and permitted the arms to encircle her 
neck. Alice gave her mother a long kiss. Narcissa then 
hurried to prepare a bath, while Alice objected. Later a sor- 
rowing mother felt that the objection was due to a change 
of routine, for the bath usually came on Saturday. 

That morning Alice selected "Rock of Ages" to be sung 
at family worship. They sang the first verse and then Alice 
said : "Mamma, should my tears forever flow ?" It was her 
way of calling for the second verse. That noon the Whitmans 
held worship for the Indians. Because the main Indian 
village had moved, only four or five were present. The 
Whitmans invited them into the house, and "Rock of Ages" 
was sung again. That was the last time they heard Alice 
sing. 

After the worship Dr. Whitman took her out into the 
garden and cut for her a stalk of rhubarb, of which she was 
very fond. He then returned to the house and began reading. 
Narcissa was likewise reading. For a time Alice amused 
herself with the stalk of rhubarb. About two-thirty Mar- 
garet McKay set the table preparatory for their main Sun- 
day meal. Later Narcissa had a dim recollection that Alice 
said: "Mama, supper is almost ready; let Alice get some 
water." [Letter 68.] She went to the table and got two 
cups, hers and Margaret's, and left the house. "This was like 
a shadow that passed across my mind," wrote Narcissa, " [it] 
passed away and made no impression." 

In a few minutes Narcissa realized that the child was 
gone and asked Margaret to look for her. Margaret went 
out, and not being able to find the child, went to the garden 
for some vegetables instead of returning to report her failure. 
Mungo also went out to look. Soon he returned and said that 
he saw two cups in the river. "How did they come there?" 
asked Narcissa. "Let them be," said Marcus, "and get them 



220 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

out to-morrow because of the Sabbath." But Narcissa again 
asked as to how they got there. Marcus then said : "I suppose 
Alice put them there." He laid aside his book and went out 
to get a pole to retrieve the cups. Mrs. Whitman, in the 
meantime, walked around the house looking for the child. 
She saw Margaret with some radishes going to the river 
to wash them, but the child was not with her. Then a flash 
of fear passed through Narcissa's mind, and she ran for the 
river. Marcus was then alarmed. Some of the Indians who 
had been with them but a little before in the worship service 
joined in the search. 

Marcus and Narcissa ran down the bank, passed the point 
where some roots of a tree held the body under water, but 
they knew nothing of that. Frantically they retraced their 
steps. The Indians plunged into the stream, but at first all 
entered below the spot where the body was found. As the 
fruitless search continued, all realized that if she were in the 
water, it was too late to hope to resuscitate her. Finally, 
with leaden hearts Marcus and Narcissa started to return to 
the house, hoping that the child might be found elsewhere. 
On the way, Narcissa paused to look back. She saw an old 
Indian preparing to enter the river at the point where the 
cups were found. She waited and saw him go down with 
the current. He passed the point opposite them, and just a 
little below, he found the body in the roots of a tree. "She is 
found," he shouted. 

Narcissa ran, eager to clasp the dripping body to her 
breast, but Marcus got there first. Hurriedly and with all 
the skill known, the doctor worked over the limp body. 
Finally they admitted the dreaded reality the child was 
dead. Her short life on earth of two years, three months, 
and nine days was over. With a fine Christian spirit, Nar- 
cissa said: "Lord, it is right; it is right; she is not mine, 
but thine; she has only been lent to me for a little season, 
and now, dearest Saviour, thou hast the best right to her; 
'Thy will be done,' not mine." [Letter 68.] 

A messenger was sent at once to notify the Spaldings 
and those with them at Lapwai. The messenger made the 
120-mile trip in 25 hours. E. O. Hall, the printer, started at 
once for Waiilatpu on horseback. He rode all night and made 
the trip in one hour less time than had the messenger. Spald- 
ing was then recovering from some injury to his ribs which 
made it impossible for him to go so far on horseback. Con- 
sequently he, his wife, and their little daughter left Lapwai 



A YEAR OF ADJUSTMENTS 221 

on Monday evening by canoe. They reached Fort Walla 
Walla, Wednesday evening at eight o'clock and the next 
morning rode out to Waiilatpu, arriving there about nine or 
ten o'clock in the morning. 

Narcissa prepared a shroud for the body, while her hus- 
band prepared the rude coffin. 23 A grave was dug in the 
plain, a little to the north of the new T-shaped mission house, 
and around it a picket fence was later built. 24 The funeral 
service was held on Thursday afternoon, June 26. Mr. 
Spalding took the words found in II Kings 4 :26 for his text : 
"Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well 
with the child?" Only a few were present. There were the 
parents and the members of their household, the Spaldings, 
Mr. Hall, Mr. Pambrun, and a few Indians. 

The great sorrow which came to the Whitmans, in which 
the Spaldings sincerely sympathized, was the cause of bring- 
ing about a better feeling between the two couples. It 
appears that Mrs. Whitman had blamed Spalding for the 
vote of the mission which asked them to move from Waiilat- 
pu. The old antipathy which existed between the two colored 
not only her attitude toward Spalding, but also her hus- 
band's. According to a letter written by Whitman to Greene 
on October 15, 1840, they were actually planning to leave 
the mission. Whitman wrote : "... so strong was this feel- 
ing that I should have left previous to the convening of the 
Mission in 1839 had not the Providence of God arrested me 
in my deliberate determination to do so, by taking away 
our dear child in so sudden a manner by drowning." 

Mrs. Whitman in her letter of October 10, 1840, made 
reference to the same determination. She wrote : 

He [i.e., Whitman] felt as if he must leave the mission, and no 
doubt would have done it, had not the Lord removed from us our be- 
loved child. This affliction softened his feelings and made him willing 
to suffer the will of the Lord, although we felt that we were suffering 
wrongfully. The death of our babe had a great affect upon all in the 
mission; it softened their hearts toward us, even Mr. S's for a season. 
I never had any difficulty with his wife. . . . 

Gray also mentioned the reconciliation which took place 
between Spalding and Whitman in his letter to Greene of 



23 There is a tradition that Mrs. Whitman used her "gray silk 
wedding dress" to line the coffin or to make the shroud. Comment has 
already been made upon the unlikeliness of Mrs. Whitman's owning a 
gray silk dress. It is most probable that she used some other dress for 
this purpose. 

24 Hines, History Oregon Mission, p. 176. 



222 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

October 14, 1840. In the fragment of Whitman's letter of 
June 30, 1839, he said : "I had concluded to take the conse- 
quences of leaving the mission." In that letter he speaks of 
"reading Henry on Meekness." 25 

The Spaldings remained at Waiilatpu until July 4, when 
they started for Lapwai. They persuaded the Whitmans to 
return with them. Several matters, including that of decid- 
ing upon a proper alphabet, needed the combined wisdom of 
the men working in the Nez Perce language. So the Whit- 
mans decided to go. The party reached Lapwai on Saturday, 
July 6. 

On the Monday following, the Whitmans, Spalding, and 
Hall made the sixty-mile trip to Kamiah to see the Smiths. 
They stayed there two days while the men settled the alpha- 
bet question. The alphabet which Spalding had devised had 
proved too cumbersome, and the men agreed that the Picker- 
ing alphabet was better adapted to their needs. 26 This mat- 
ter was formally decided to the satisfaction of all by vote 
of the mission in September of that year. 

The Whitmans spent Sunday, July 14, at Lapwai and on 
the following Tuesday started back to their lonesome home. 
They reached their destination on Friday morning. That 
day word came from Tshimakain that Mrs. Eells was seri- 
ously ill. Her husband even despaired of her life and begged 
Dr. Whitman to go at once. Dr. Whitman was reluctant to 
leave his wife alone, yet duty called, and Mrs. Whitman had 
to pay the price of being a doctor's wife. "It was then," 
wrote Narcissa, "that I fully realized the full reality of my 
bereavement." [Letter 68.] On April 30, 1840, in a letter 
to her father, she said : "The lovely tender plant which our 
Heavenly Father gave us to rear for Him He has transplanted 
to His own Paradise above. It is almost a year since He took 
her, yet our hearts do not cease to bleed at the fond recollec- 
tion of her innocent smiles and fond caresses." 

The long distance which separated Waiilatpu from loved 
ones in the East, with the consequent length of time required 
for a letter to be sent and its answer received, was a cause 
of the frequent freshening of the Whitmans' sorrow. While 
the body still remained unburied, Narcissa wrote to Mrs. 
H. K. W. Perkins, the wife of one of the Methodist mission- 
aries recently arrived at The Dalles. Mrs. Perkins had 



. 2 5 See notes of Myron Eells in Coll. W. 

26 Drury, Spalding, p. 225, gives a fuller account of the alphabet 
question. 



A YEAR OF ADJUSTMENTS 223 

written, making inquiries about the child, but before Nar- 
cissa could answer, the child was dead. 

Then finally in the fall of 1839 letters came from their 
loved ones with congratulations; another year passed, and 
the dresses and shoes ordered by Narcissa in 1838 arrived ; 
and still another year was to elapse before condolences ar- 
rived. The child was then in her grave for more than two 
years. No wonder it was hard for Narcissa to forget, when 
each of these letters served to open anew the great sorrow. 

Dr. Whitman returned from Tshimakain on Saturday, 
July 27, and Mr. Walker came with him. During the third 
week in August, the Whitmans were agreeably surprised 
when William Geiger, of Angelica, suddenly appeared at 
their station. With him was a Mr. Johnson, who was on an 
exploring expedition of some kind. They were the first of 
a long line to stream by the Whitman station on their way 
to the Lower Columbia country. The Whitmans had received 
no letters from their home after those which arrived on 
July 11, 1838, more than a year previous. We can imagine 
the eagerness with which they questioned Geiger. After a 
short stay their visitors continued their journey to the 
Willamette. 

On Sunday, August 25, little Eliza Spalding got an ob- 
struction in her throat which greatly alarmed her parents. 
The next day an emergency call was sent to Whitman. By 
riding all night after receiving word, Dr. Whitman was able 
to reach Lapwai on the 28th. He found Eliza recovered. Since 
the annual mission meeting was scheduled for Lapwai dur- 
ing the early part of September, Dr. Whitman had arranged 
for his wife to follow with Mr. Walker before he left 
Waiilatpu. 

While waiting for her coming, Dr. Whitman made him- 
self useful at Lapwai. Spalding recorded in his diary that 
on August 30, the doctor performed an operation on an "old 
mare." 

That evening Dr. Whitman expected Narcissa to arrive. 
With little Eliza Spalding mounted on his horse with him, 
the doctor set out to meet his wife. They rode down the trail 
on the south side of the Clearwater. His wife and her party 
happened to go up the north side, so the two missed each 
other. Mrs. Whitman reached Lapwai at sunset, while the 
doctor and Eliza did not return until after dark. Is it hard to 
guess some of Whitman's thoughts as he rode the trail with 
little Eliza Spalding? 



CHAPTER ELEVEN 

THAT MAN SPALDING 
1839-1840 

rpHE ANNUAL meeting of the Oregon mission of the 
J- American Board for 1839 was opened in Spalding's home 
at Lapwai on Monday, September 2. Whitman, Spalding, 
Gray, and Smith were present. Walker and Eells were ab- 
sent. Hall, a member of the Sandwich Islands mission, was 
present and was invited to sit as a corresponding member. 
Rogers joined the group on the 4th when he returned from 
the buffalo country. Spalding was again elected Moderator, 
with Smith as Scribe. 

The mission reversed two decisions made the preceding 
February. In the first place Whitman was to remain at 
Waiilatpu. Spalding expressed his feelings in his diary. "I 
do not approve of this." He felt that Whitman should be 
more centrally located. 

Gray was eager to have a station of his own. After con- 
siderable discussion he was given permission to explore for 
a site. Again Spalding disapproved. This particular vote of 
the mission caused much trouble, for Gray interpreted it to 
mean that he was authorized to establish another station. 
As soon as possible after the meeting closed on the 5th, the 
Grays started on their tour of exploration. Mrs. Walker in 
her diary speaks of the Grays' being at Tshimakain on Sep- 
tember 16-18. After being away from Lapwai for more 
than a month, they returned on October 18 and informed 
Spalding that they had selected a site "about a day above 
Walla Walla on a small stream putting in from the S.W." 1 

Gray began to make immediate preparations to move, 
and Spalding with characteristic bluntness told him that the 
mission had not authorized him to move but merely to explore 
for a site. The argument waxed warm. Gray was thoroughly 
discouraged and resented what he thought was his inferior 
status in the mission. Consequently he left for Fort Van- 
couver on October 21 with the hope of finding other em- 
ployment in the Hudson's Bay Company. This he was un- 
able to do because he could not produce satisfactory evidence 



Spalding diary. 



THAT MAN SPALDING 225 

that his withdrawal from the mission met the approval of his 
associates. 2 It seems quite clear that Gray's subsequent 
animosity to the company can be traced to this event. 

Disappointed in his endeavors to find employment else- 
where, Gray returned to Fort Walla Walla and sent word to 
his wife at Lapwai to join him. Mrs. Gray with her seven- 
month-old baby left on November 11 with only an Indian 
escort. Gray was thoroughly provoked with Spalding and 
decided to remain at Fort Walla Walla until another meet- 
ing of the mission could be called to reconsider his case. 

During Gray's absence from Lapwai, Spalding had time 
to write to Walker and Eells about the matter and learned 
from them that they, too, felt it was unwise for Gray to start 
a new station. 

Mrs. Spalding was expected to give birth to a child about 
the middle of November. Dr. Whitman went up to attend 
her. He reached the north bank of the Clearwater opposite 
Spalding's home on Thursday night, November 14. Not 
being able to attract attention and not wishing to swim the 
river, Whitman rolled out his blankets on the sandy beach, 
which is still at that point, and spent the night. 

On Sunday, November 17, Whitman was present when 
Spalding baptized and received into the membership of the 
First Church of Oregon three new members. They were 
James Conner, the mountain man assisting Spalding at 
Lapwai, and two influential chiefs, to whom Spalding gave 
the names of Joseph and Timothy. Before receiving the two 
Indians as members, Spalding first performed the Christian 
marriage service for each of them. After their reception 
into full membership, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper 
was observed, when for the first time the missionaries had 
fellowship in that sacred rite with Indians. 

Spalding had time to discuss the Gray affair with Whit- 
man. Gray had demanded that another mission meeting be 
called to settle his status. Both Whitman and Spalding felt 
that this was impractical at that time because of the cost 
and trouble involved. They wrote a joint letter on November 
25 to Gray, pointing out these facts, and "respectfully re- 
quested" him to proceed immediately to Waiilatpu, where 
Dr. Whitman was to provide him with living quarters and 
where he was to assist in the erection of buildings and do 
such other mechancial work "as Doct Whitman shall direct." 



2 Marshall, Acquisition of Oregon, Vol. 2, p. 101. 



226 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

On November 24, Mrs. Spalding gave birth to a son, who 
was called Henry Hart Spalding. Whitman started back to 
Waiilatpu on November 26, which happened to be Spalding's 
thirty-sixth birthday. 

Gray was infuriated when he received the joint letter 
from Whitman and Spalding. He replied on December 2, 
saying: 

In regard to your orders or request, I have only to say; Gentlemen, 
I have not yet nor shall I put myself under the control of any Com- 
mittee of our Mission to answer individual demands any further than 
labor properly coming under the care and control of the Mission. The 
proposition to which you refer was gratuitous and does not relate to 
Doct Whitman in any way except that he is bound equally with myself 
to assist the Ordained Ministers (not Doct Whitman) in building and 
furnishing their permanent houses. ... I protest against your right as 
a Committee of this Mission to order me to obey the private order or 
direction of any member of this Mission, or any body else in any way, 
shape, or manner. 3 

Whitman wrote to Walker from Waiilatpu on December 
3 in regard to the Gray affair, saying in part : 

What is to be the course of Mr. Gray, I know not. He is with his 
family at Walla Walla. I invited him here & offered to arrange a 
house for him. Mr. Spalding and myself as the only way to make 
known the views of the mission wrote to him as the Credential Com- 
mittee of the mission requesting him to fulfill his resolution to build by 
coming to Waiilatpu to assist to build a school house and at the same 
time laid before him the views of the mission as to his locating but he 
objected to all we propose either as individual & denies all right on our 
part as Committee. [Letter 72.] 

While Gray was embittered against Spalding, yet he was 
more aroused over the "request" to go to Waiilatpu. So he 
was obliged to return with his family to Lapwai, where he 
arrived on December 28, very much out of humor at the 
turn of events. He sulked through the rest of the winter of 
1839-40, criticizing the constructive efforts Spalding was 
making and in other ways making trouble. 

THE INDEPENDENT MISSIONARIES 

Another source of perplexity and difficulty arose with the 
arrival in the fall of 1839 of the independent missionaries. 
On the day the mission meeting opened at Lapwai, a mes- 
senger arrived from Walla Walla with letters from David 
Greene which brought the news that missionaries independ- 
ent of any board or church organization were to go to 
Oregon that year. 



Copy, Coll. O. 



THAT MAN SPALDING 227 

Following the mission meeting, the Halls returned with 
the Whitmans to Waiilatpu. It was time for the Halls to 
return to Hawaii, but Mrs. Hall, an invalid, was pregnant, 
and it was thought best for them to remain at Waiilatpu, 
where they could be near Dr. Whitman. Because of Mrs. 
Hall's condition, the Whitmans and the Halls went down the 
Clearwater and the Snake by canoe rather than attempt the 
overland trip. They reached Fort Walla Walla at noon on 
Monday, September 9, where they met Mr. and Mrs. Asahel 
Munger, who had arrived together with the Rev. and Mrs. 
J. S. Griffin as independent missionaries. The Griffins had 
already left for Lapwai, Mr. Griffin being an old friend of 
Mr. Spalding. 

Griffin had started for Oregon with the Mungers as a 
single man, but while passing through St. Louis had met, 
courted, and married Desired C. Smith. According to an 
entry in the Griffin family Bible, they were married by 
"Rev. Mr. Braybrook in St. Louis, Mo. on the 10th of April, 
1839, & at once left on our way across the continent." 4 

Munger was a carpenter and joiner from Lockport, New 
York. He was one of the first Oberlin colonists of 1833. 
Munger had sought the support of the Oberlin Congrega- 
tional church for his proposed Oregon mission, but, accord- 
ing to the following record in the church minutes, this 
support was withheld : 

Resolved, that under present circumstances the church can not feel 
justified in recommending to Br & Sister Munger to embark in their 
proposed missionary expedition. 5 

The Mungers were not discourged by this rebuff and 
secured the support of a Congregational Association of 
North Litchfield, Connecticut. As will be related later, 
Munger became insane in Oregon. Perhaps the Oberlin 
church was aware of some instability on Munger's part at 
the time it refused to assist him in his enterprise. 

The two couples crossed the country in somewhat the same 
manner as had the missionaries of the American Board. 6 
Upon their arrival at Fort Walla Walla, they soon realized 



4 Griffin family Bible is at Pacific University, Forest Grove, Ore. 
Mrs. Griffin died Sept. 22, 1884, in her eightieth year. J. S. Griffin was 
remarried on Oct. 4, 1887, to Mrs. Sina Kenyon. On May 15, 1853, 
H. H. Spalding was remarried to Rachel J. Smith, a sister of the first 
Mrs. J. S. Griffin. 

6 Information given by Prof. Robert S. Fletcher from the MS. of his 
book, Oberlin, 1833-1866. 

6 Munger's diary was published in O.H.Q., 1907, pp. 387-405. 



228 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

the difficulties of their situation. It was absolutely necessary 
for them to find employment, for they had virtually no 
financial resources of their own. The Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany had no place for them, so they turned to the mission- 
aries of the American Board, who suddenly found themselves 
faced with the problem as to what they should do with 
their uninvited guests. 

Mr. and Mrs. Griffin reached Lapwai on September 9. 
Spalding found there was nothing to do but to hire Griffin, 
who proved to be a faithful and agreeable worker. The 
Griffins spent the winter of 1839-40 at Lapwai. They tried 
to start a mission at Fort Boise in the spring of 1840 but 
were unsuccessful. They then moved to the Willamette 
Valley. 7 

On the morning of September 10, Whitman entered into 
a bargain with Munger by which Whitman agreed to furnish 
board and room for the two and pay eight dollars a month 
until March 1, 1840. The Mungers then accompanied the 
Whitmans and the Halls to Waiilatpu. Mrs. Hall had to 
be carried from Fort Walla Walla to the mission station in 
a hammock. [Letter 68.] 

Munger was a skilled workman, and his services were, 
therefore, greatly appreciated by the Whitmans. Within a 
month he had finished a room in the new mission house for 
the Halls. Writing on April 30, Narcissa said: "A part of 
the house is nearly finished and will be a very comfortable 
and clean house to what this has been." And a little later 
she wrote again : "It seems as if the Lord's hand was in it 
in sending Mr. and Mrs. Munger here just at this time, and 
I know not how to feel grateful enough." [Letter 76.] The 
Halls remained until March 1, 1840, and then they returned 
to the Sandwich Islands. 

The pathetic and straitened circumstances in which the 
independent missionaries found themselves are revealed in 
a letter written by Mrs. A. B. Smith from Kamiah to Mrs. 
Walker and Mrs. Eells. The letter is dated December 18, 
1839, and therein we read : 

What is best for us to do about giving to Mrs. Griffin? What they 
can do I know not, or how they can get things to make them comfort- 
able I know not, unless some one gives them. I would give her with 
all my heart if it is right. Mr. Smith, Mr. Hall & others say that they 
have come in opposition to the Amr. Board & ought not to be assisted. 
But the poor woman has come without a sheet or pillow case, & with 



7 Drury, Spalding, p. 239, gives more details. 



THAT MAN SPALDING 229 

little bedding & with no crockery. These things they must have & 
how they will get them I don't know. 

Mrs. Spalding while I was there gave her three broken plates for 
her to use (?) & enough wide striped cotten to make a pair of sheets. 
If husband will consent I shall give her a pair of sheets. She has 
plenty of clothing probably more dresses than I shall have after mine 
get here. She has two pretty silk dresses several muslin & fine calico, & 
two or three pieces unmade. She has more neck dresses than she will 
ever need & all very pretty. Mr. G. has enough But sheets pillow cases 
paper & crockery they need. Would you give them Shall you do it? 8 

This letter indicates the differences of opinion which 
existed among the members of the mission regarding the 
treatment which should be extended to the independent 
missionaries. Smith was hard-hearted. Spalding was in- 
clined to .be more generous, and for this was severely 
criticized. 

THE MISSION HOUSE 

When Hunger's term of service expired on March 1, 
1840, Whitman rehired him for another six months, and 
raised his wages to 3 per month. "He is a good house car- 
penter," Whitman wrote to Greene on March 27, 1840. "In 
that time I hope he will finish our house & make us some 
comfortable furniture & some farming implements." The 
Whitmans were then still living in the first house they built, 
although they were fearful that the walls would collapse 
should the river rise as it did the first winter they were 
there. 

On May 2, 1840, Mrs. Whitman wrote to her mother and 
enclosed a plan of their house, which was drawn to scale 
by Mr. Munger. The west front on the plan measured about 
seventy-two feet, while the east addition was supposed to be 
eighty feet long. The rooms A, I, and K were never built. 
Narcissa added a legend to the plan, indicating the use of 
each room. 

On April 30, she wrote : 

All our boards are sawed by hand with a pit saw, which dear father 
must know is very hard work, and besides this, the smoothing, daubing 
and whitewashing of an adobe house is very tedious work and requires 
much time and labor. Husband is now engaged in it, preparing it for 
painting. We feel ourselves highly favored that we could obtain oil 
and paint enough and at a reasonable price, to paint the wood work and 
floors, so as to save my strength and labor. 

Since glass was so hard to get, Dr. Whitman planned to 
make Venetian blinds to protect his windows. Narcissa 



8 Coll. Wn. The words in italics are underlined in the original. 



230 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

noted on the plan of the house drawn by Munger that the 
exterior of their home did not look as nice as the interior. 
The roof was made of poles, grass, and dirt. The outside 
woodwork was to be painted green. This with the white- 
washed adobe walls would perhaps give a slight resemblance 
to the neat colonial-type buildings back in New York State 
which were so frequently painted white and trimmed in 
green. Regarding lime, Narcissa wrote: "There is no lime 
stone to be obtained anywhere near us and our alternative is 
to burn clam shells, which we hope to make answer the 
purpose." [Letter 75.] 

Writing to her mother on May 2, 1840, Narcissa again 
referred to her difficulties in her old house. 

Could dear mother know how I have been situated the two winters 
past, especially winter before last, I know she would pity me. I often 
think how disagreeable it used to be to her feelings to do her cooking in 
the presence of men sitting about the room. This I have had to bear 
ever since I have been here at times it has seemed as if could not 
endure it any longer. It has been the more trying because our house 
has been so miserable and cold small and inconvenient for us many 
people as have lived in it. 

But the greatest trial to a womans feelings is to have her cooking 
and eating room always filled with four or five or more Indians men 
especially at meal time. 

A special room for the Indians was planned for the new 
house, with the understanding that certain rooms were to be 
reserved for the private use of the missionaries. Another 
trial as far as the Indians were concerned was the fact that 
they frequently brought in lice and fleas. No wonder Nar- 
cissa looked forward with eager anticipation to the privacy 
which she hoped the new house would afford. 

In May, Dr. Whitman was called to Tshimakain, 140 
miles to the north, to attend Mrs. Walker. Mrs. Whitman de- 
cided to go with her husband. Tiloukaikt, the principal 
Cayuse chief in the vicinity of Waiilatpu, could not under- 
stand the consideration that Dr. Whitman gave to his wife. 
"Why do you not go alone?" he asked. "What do you make 
so much of her for?" This gave Dr. Whitman the oppor- 
tunity to explain the Christian conception of womanhood and 
of marriage. 

The Whitmans reached Tshimakain on Thursday, May 
14. Mrs. Walker gave birth to a daughter on Sunday, the 
24th, who was named Abigail. While in that vicinity, the 
Whitmans visited Fort Colville. They began their return 
trip on May 26. The trip going and coming took about three 



THAT MAN SPALDING 231 

weeks. Upon their return, they moved into their new home, 
much to Narcissa's joy. 

Mrs. Hunger was confined on June 25 and gave birth 
to a daughter. [Letter 78.] The Hungers continued to live 
at Waiilatpu until the spring of 1841. At that time we find 
Narcissa writing to Hrs. Perkins at Waskopum, or The 
Dalles, saying: "We are in deep trial and affliction. Our 
Brother Hunger is perfectly insane and we are tried to know 
how to get along with him." [Letter 84.] Hunger was ob- 
sessed with the idea that he was the divinely appointed agent 
for Christ's church and that all should obey him. He even 
claimed ownership of the Waiilatpu property. 

FARNHAM'S VISIT 

After his return from the fall mission meeting of 1839, 
Whitman wrote a letter to Greene in which he summarized 
the affairs within the mission. He acknowledged the arrival 
of twenty-eight boxes of goods for the mission, which were 
then still at Vancouver. Whitman like Spalding was not in 
favor of having the Smiths go to Kamiah, as Smith then 
desired. He felt that Smith should have remained at Waiilat- 
pu to assist him. 

In this letter we find indication that Whitman was 
realizing the strategic importance of the location of Waiilat- 
pu. He wrote : "I do not think it proper for me to hold the 
most difficult & responsible station in the mission where all 
contact with Traders Catholics Travellers & adventurers of 
every description come in immediate contact & where I have 
to discharge all the duties of Hinister & Physician to the 
Hission." The next spring we find Narcissa writing: "We 
are emphatically situated on the highway between the States 
and the Columbia river, and are a resting place for weary 
travelers, consequently a greater burden rests upon us than 
upon any of our associates." [Letter 76.] 

Those visiting Whitman's station in the fall of 1839 
were but the vanguard of a great host to stream by his 
door. Geiger and Johnson came first ; then the Hungers and 
the Griffins ; and then on September 23, J. T. Farnham and 
associates arrived. The Farnham party, also called the 
Peoria party, started fourteen strong with the avowed inten- 
tion of beginning American settlements in Oregon. 9 The 
expedition was torn by dissension, with the result that only 



9 Bancroft, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 227. 



232 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

four got into the Columbia River Valley that fall. They 
were J. T. Farnham, A. M. Blair, Sidney Smith, and Robert 
Shortess. Blair went to Lapwai, where he worked for Spald- 
ing. Smith went to the Willamette Valley. Shortess, who 
reached Waiilatpu after Farnham, entered Whitman's em- 
ploy for the winter of 1839-40 at six dollars a month. [Let- 
ter 77.] 

Farnham returned to the States, where he issued a vol- 
ume describing his travels in which we find an interesting 
account of his visit to Waiilatpu. 10 Here is his description 
of the breakfast he enjoyed in the Whitman home : 

The morning of the 24th opened in the loveliest hues of the sky. 
When the smoking vegetables, the hissing steak, bread white as snow, 
and the newly churned butter, graced the table, and the happy coun- 
tenances of countrymen and countrywomen shone around, I could with 
difficulty believe myself in a country so far distant from, and so unlike 
my native land and all its features. But during breakfast this pleasant 
illusion was dispelled by one of the causes which induced it. Our steak 
was horseflesh! On such meat this poor family live on most of the 
time. It enables them to exist, to do the Indians good, and thus 
satisfied them. 

Dr. Whitman escorted his guest about the mission prem- 
ises. Farnham noted tomatoes in the garden. He saw 
Hunger at work on the new house. Whitman proudly 
showed Farnham the new mill. Farnham called it : "a crazy 
thing, but for it the Doctor was grateful. It would, with the 
help of himself and an Indian, grind enough in a day to feed 
his family for a week." On the whole Farnham was deeply 
impressed with the progress that Whitman had made and 
praised his industry and untiring energy. He marveled that 
within three years the Whitmans should have been able to 
learn the Indian language, establish a home, and begin a 
farm in a wilderness, and reap the success that then crowned 
their labors, when at the same time the Doctor was serving 
as mission physician to widely separated stations. 

Farnham visited the school which Dr. and Mrs. Whit- 
man conducted. Some forty or fifty children between the 
ages of seven and eighteen were present on the shady side of 
the new mission house. After observing Mrs. Whitman at 
her work for those several days, Farnham wrote in his 
journal: "Mrs. Whitman is an indefatigable instructress." 



10 Farnham, Travels, pp. 147 ff. His description of Waiilatpu is 
too long to be included here. Farnham gives a detailed account of the 
gristmill. 




WILLIAM H. GRAY. 
From Whitman College Quarterly, June, 1913. 

Used by permission. 



232 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

four got into the Columbia River Valley that fall. They 
were J. T. Farnham, A. M. Blair, Sidney Smith, and Robert 
Shortess. Blair went to Lapwai, where he worked for Spald- 
ing. Smith went to the Willamette Valley. Shortess, who 
reached Waiilatpu after Farnham, entered Whitman's em- 
ploy for the winter of 1839-40 at six dollars a month. [Let- 
ter 77.] 

Farnham returned to the States, where he issued a vol- 
ume describing his travels in which we find an interesting 
account of his visit to Waiilatpu. 10 Here is his description 
of the breakfast he enjoyed in the Whitman home : 

The morning of the 24th opened in the loveliest hues of the sky. 
When the smoking vegetables, the hissing steak, bread white as snow, 
and the newly churned butter, graced the table, and the happy coun- 
tenances of countrymen and countrywomen shone around, I could with 
difficulty believe myself in a country so far distant from, and so unlike 
my native land and all its features. But during breakfast this pleasant 
illusion was dispelled by one of the causes which induced it. Our steak 
was horseflesh! On such meat this poor family live on most of the 
time. It enables them to exist, to do the Indians good, and thus 
satisfied them. 

Dr. Whitman escorted his guest about the mission prem- 
ises. Farnham noted tomatoes in the garden. He saw 
Munger at work on the new house. Whitman proudly 
showed Farnham the new mill. Farnham called it : "a crazy 
thing, but for it the Doctor was grateful. It would, with the 
help of himself and an Indian, grind enough in a day to feed 
his family for a week." On the whole Farnham was deeply 
impressed with the progress that Whitman had made and 
praised his industry and untiring energy. He marveled that 
within three years the Whitmans should have been able to 
learn the Indian language, establish a home, and begin a 
farm in a wilderness, and reap the success that then crowned 
their labors, when at the same time the Doctor was serving 
as mission physician to widely separated stations. 

Farnham visited the school which Dr. and Mrs. Whit- 
man conducted. Some forty or fifty children between the 
ages of seven and eighteen were present on the shady side of 
the new mission house. After observing Mrs. Whitman at 
her work for those several days, Farnham wrote in his 
journal: "Mrs. Whitman is an indefatigable instructress." 



Farnham, Travels, pp. 147 ff. His description of Waiilatpu is 
too long to be included here. Farnham gives a detailed account of the 
gristmill. 




WILLIAM H. GRAY. 

From TF/tiiman College Quarterly, June, 1913. 
Used by permission. 




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THAT MAN SPALDING 233 

He stayed over Sunday, September 29, and saw Dr. Whitman 
conduct religious services for the Indians. 

Regarding the use of horseflesh, we find Whitman writing 
to Greene on October 22, 1841, two years after Farnham's 
visit, saying : "... we had killed our first beef only grass fed 
a steer of four years old last summer which gave us one 
hundred and twenty eight pounds of tried tallow." Narcissa 
wrote that same month: "Seven hogs have been butchered 

today We do not need to kill any more horses for meat ; 

for we killed a very fat beef a short time ago." [Letter 97.] 
Thus we find that the Whitmans ate horseflesh for five years 
after their arrival in Oregon. 

MISSION WORK 

On the whole Marcus and Narcissa were pleased with the 
attitude of the Indians during the winter of 1839-40. The 
school was kept going through the winter, although Dr. 
Whitman wrote that the average attendance fell to ten. 
Mrs. Whitman continued as teacher. In the spring the at- 
tendance again went up to about fifty when more of the 
Indians returned to Waiilatpu to prepare for their spring 
planting. [Letter 74.] Both Whitman and Spalding found 
it difficult to do consistent work with the Indians when they 
were constantly on the move. After three years of teaching 
and example, Whitman was encouraged to see an increasing 
number of the Indians prepare for planting in the spring 
of 1840. 

In an unsigned report sent to Greene under date of July 
6, 1840, Whitman reported on the number of livestock at 
the Waiilatpu station. The number included : " . . . five cows, 
two one year old heifers & three heifer calves. One pair 
Oxen, two pair of steers, two yearling bulls & two bull calves, 
twenty in all." He also reported having seventeen head of 
horses. 

Regarding his medical work, he mentioned an unusual 
amount of sickness among the Indians and their reluctance 
to give up their native superstitions. Narcissa wrote that 
the sickness of the Indians caused them much "perplexity, 
care and anxiety." [Letter 75.] Sometimes the Whitmans 
had their moments of discouragement, yet Narcissa could 
write in May, 1840 : "They are an exceedingly proud, haughty 
and insolent people, and keep us constantly upon the stretch 
after patience and forbearance. . . . Notwithstanding all 
these there are many redeeming qualities in them, else we 



** 

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"->* 




THAT MAN SPALDING 233 

He stayed over Sunday, September 29, and saw Dr. Whitman 
conduct religious services for the Indians. 

Regarding the use of horseflesh, we find Whitman writing 
to Greene on October 22, 1841, two years after Farnham's 
visit, saying: "... we had killed our first beef only grass fed 
a steer of four years old last summer which gave us one 
hundred and twenty eight pounds of tried tallow." Narcissa 
wrote that same month : "Seven hogs have been butchered 
today. . . . We do not need to kill any more horses for meat ; 
for we killed a very fat beef a short time ago." [Letter 97.] 
Thus we find that the Whitmans ate horseflesh for five years 
after their arrival in Oregon. 

MISSION WORK 

On the whole Marcus and Narcissa were pleased with the 
attitude of the Indians during the winter of 1839-40. The 
school was kept going through the winter, although Dr. 
Whitman wrote that the average attendance fell to ten. 
Mrs. Whitman continued as teacher. In the spring the at- 
tendance again went up to about fifty when more of the 
Indians returned to Waiilatpu to prepare for their spring 
planting. [Letter 74.] Both Whitman and Spalding found 
it difficult to do consistent work with the Indians when they 
were constantly on the move. After three years of teaching 
and example, Whitman was encouraged to see an increasing 
number of the Indians prepare for planting in the spring 
of 1840. 

In an unsigned report sent to Greene under date of July 
6, 1840, Whitman reported on the number of livestock at 
the Waiilatpu station. The number included : " . . . five cows, 
two one year old heifers & three heifer calves. One pair 
Oxen, two pair of steers, two yearling bulls & two bull calves, 
twenty in all." He also reported having seventeen head of 
horses. 

Regarding his medical work, he mentioned an unusual 
amount of sickness among the Indians and their reluctance 
to give up their native superstitions. Narcissa wrote that 
the sickness of the Indians caused them much "perplexity, 
care and anxiety." [Letter 75.] Sometimes the Whitmans 
had their moments of discouragement, yet Narcissa could 
write in May, 1840 : "They are an exceedingly proud, haughty 
and insolent people, and keep us constantly upon the stretch 
after patience and forbearance. . . . Notwithstanding all 
these there are many redeeming qualities in them, else we 



234 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

should have been discouraged long ago. We are more and 
more encouraged the longer we stay among them." [Letter 
76.] 

Narcissa besought her loved ones to write, and we won- 
der why they should have been so negligent. On October 9, 
1839, she wrote: "I have not received a single letter from 
home for more than a year except one from Cousin Jeremiah 
Butler, who is now at Oberlin." Again on April 30, 1840, 
she said to her father : "It is almost two years since we have 
received a single letter from home, and I have written several 
times since." 

On the first of June, 1840, an Indian arrived at Waiilatpu 
from Fort Walla Walla with some letters. The Whitmans had 
retired, but they eagerly arose, lighted a candle, and read 
the latest news from their homes far away to the east news 
that was then about a year old. One letter was from Nar- 
cissa's mother, the first she had received, and she was over- 
joyed. She wrote of that experience, saying : "It was enough 
to transport me in imagination to that dear circle I loved 
so well, and to prevent sleep from returning that night. . . . 
0, could my dear parents know how much comfort it would 
be to their solitary children here, they would each of them 
fill out a sheet as often as once a month and send it to the 
Board for us." [Letter 78.] 

DISCORD 

Would that it were possible to write the story of the 
Oregon mission without the necessity of describing the 
discord within it which came to a focus in 1840. The conse- 
quences of this trouble have been too far-reaching to be 
overlooked. As will be shown, this dissension started a chain 
of events which resulted in Whitman's mounting his horse 
on October 3, 1843, and starting for Boston. 

For a variety of reasons Henry Spalding became the 
center of the turbulent eddy around which the personal 
jealousies, suspicions, fears, and criticisms swirled. To begin 
with, there was the old antagonism between Henry and Nar- 
cissa which dated back to her rejection of his suit. Because 
of it, Henry and Marcus had several differences of opinion 
on the way across the country in 1836. Because of it two 
stations were established, 120 miles apart. Under ordinary 
conditions the two families would have lived in one station. 

We must also remember that some of the members of 
the 1838 re-enforcement were captious and hypersensitive. 



THAT MAN SPALDING 235 

No one wanted to live with Gray after enduring his overbear- 
ing attitude on the way out. Smith, afflicted by ill-health, was 
grouchy. Rogers likewise found it easy to criticize. In re- 
viewing these unpleasant quarrels we should be charitable 
enough to remember the difficult conditions under which 
they lived. A sharp word or a ruffled disposition comes all 
too quickly when one is physically exhausted or mentally ill 
at ease. The missionaries could not give vent to their feelings 
upon the natives. Their only outlet was upon their associates. 

With the exception of Walker and Eells, who lived peace- 
fully together at Tshimakain, all of the other families wanted 
separate stations. Smith refused to live with the Whitmans 
at Waiilatpu, which would have been the sensible thing to do. 
Gray was ambitious for his own location and sulked like a 
spoiled child a whole winter because his wishes had been 
thwarted. Gray blamed Spalding for the attitude of the 
mission. Spalding was blamed by the Whitmans for the 
endeavor to have the Whitmans move to a more central 
location. 

It was Spalding's unfortunate lot to have Gray live with 
him during the winter of 1839-40. Gray was in the mood 
for finding fault, and he found a ready listener in both 
Smith and Rogers. Spalding had objected to the Smiths' 
moving to Kamiah, and perhaps this lay at the root of 
Smith's critical attitude toward Spalding. Be it said to the 
credit of the members of the mission, they were deeply 
troubled about the situation and spent many an hour upon 
their knees in prayer about it. But at first their repentance 
was not deep enough to effect a full and frank discussion. 

Whitman visited Lapwai during the latter part of Janu- 
ary, 1840, and while there he had a talk with Gray, Hall, and 
Rogers about Spalding. Gray had much about which he 
complained. He criticized Spalding for spending so much 
time on secular activities. Spalding had a burning passion to 
settle the Indians. He wanted to teach them to farm, to 
raise cattle and sheep, and to become independent of the 
hunt. In general, this conviction was shared by Whitman 
but at first not to the same extent. 

According to a letter of J. S. Griffin written on February 
4, 1884, both Whitman and Gray opposed Spalding in his 
desire to get the Indians to raise sheep. Griffin claimed that 
Gray and Spalding accused him during the winter of 1839-40 
of giving too much encouragement to Spalding in this respect. 
Griffin wrote: 



236 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Instead of yielding my influence in that direction, I did all in my 

power to get him (Whitman) into the same In that last part of the 

season of '40 in about the last discussion with him (Whitman) on the 
subject, & he became almost abusive to me for my influence with 
Spalding & in my justification of him (Spalding) in the nomadic work, 
I declared that I would no more discuss the matter after I should add 
one more sentence, i.e., "Dr. your Indians are all going to Hell on 
horseback." 1 ^ 

Whitman felt that the Indians were too avaricious and 
that it would only make more trouble if the missionaries 
were to give them chickens, pigs, sheep, or cattle, even as 
pay for services rendered. Griffin claimed that later Whit- 
man changed his views on this question and became con- 
vinced that the Indians were doomed unless they became 
settled. But at first these questions of mission policy were 
bones of contention. 

On February 6, 1840, Smith sent the first of a series of 
complaining letters about Spalding to the American Board. 
A few weeks later, Gray visited Smith, and when Gray re- 
turned to Lapwai, he, too, sat down and wrote to Greene 
about "that man Spalding." On March 16, 1840, Hall joined 
the chorus of disapproval. Gray sent in a second letter on 
April 15. On March 27, Whitman wrote. On the whole, 
Whitman was more charitable in his attitude and refrained 
from being as outspoken in his criticism of Spalding as 
were Smith, Gray, and Hall. Yet Whitman did write : 

I feel to regret the joint letter sent by Mr. Spalding & myself in 
1838 as containing a forced view of things calculated to excite hopes 
not to be realized. This I have wished to avoid in all my correspondence. 
The letter was written in Mr. S. peculiar stile for which I do not feel 
responsible. But the signing I regret & also that such a bill of Indian 
goods was asked for & fear you may have sent them. 

Whitman was shifting to Spalding all of the blame for 
the extravagant demands made upon the Board which were 
inspired by the visit of Jason Lee. In the meantime, Spald- 
ing was ignorant that such criticisms were being sent to 
Greene. His letters to Greene during this same time were 
free of discussion regarding the difficulties within the mis- 
sion. One must read his diary to see how he felt. 12 

The 1840 annual meeting of the mission was held at 
Lapwai, beginning Saturday, July 4. All of the missionaries 
were present and all sensed the tense situation. This time 
Walker was elected Moderator, and the men condescended 



" Griffin to Myron Eells, Coll. W. 

12 Spalding's side is given in more detail in Drury, Spalding. 



THAT MAN SPALDING 237 

to invite the women to attend the sessions although there is 
no record that they had the privileges of the floor. They were 
permitted merely to listen. 

Gray's case came up again for discussion. Again the 
mission reversed itself. Permission was given to Gray to 
establish a station at the mouth of the Yakima River, about 
twenty miles up the Columbia River from Fort Walla Walla. 
The place was called Shimnap. Some of the mission objected 
to the way in which Spalding and Whitman had received 
Joseph and Timothy into the membership of the Church, and 
so it was voted that all who worked among the Nez Perces 
be a committee to pass on the fitness of the candidates. 

Most of Tuesday and Wednesday, July 7 and 8, were 
given over to a discussion of the personal differences. Ac- 
cording to Spalding's diary, Whitman arose on Tuesday "in 
great agitation" and stated that either he or Spalding would 
have to leave the mission. It seems that Spalding had dis- 
cussed too freely the issues existing between himself and 
the Whitmans with the other brethren, and of course the 
Whitmans learned of it. Spalding's impetuous statement 
made in the States before leaving for Oregon about Mrs. 
Whitman's "judgment" was also discussed. It was the echo 
of an unfortunate love affair ! 

After two days' frank talk, a better feeling existed. 
Spalding was penitent, and Whitman was forgiving. Spald- 
ing wrote in his diary on the 9th: "About all present said 
they felt they had been more or less guilty in respect to the 
lamentable state of things that had existed sometime and 
wished now to forget everything and labor as one heart." 

Smith, the secretary of the mission, sent in a report to 
Greene on September 2. He wrote a long letter of fifty-two 
pages, forty of which were taken up with adverse criticism 
of Spalding. He went into detail regarding the quarrel be- 
tween Whitman and Spalding, and between Gray and Spald- 
ing, and stated that Whitman "was very sanguine in his 
expectations that Mr. Spalding would in the future do 
better." The reconciliations effected at the July meeting did 
not seem to have moved Smith, for on September 28 he wrote 
again to Greene and recommended that Spalding be "re- 
called to the States and dismissed from the service of the 
Board." Smith felt the same way about Gray. Smith's letter 
of the 28th contains the following serious charge : 

From what I have seen and know of him Spalding I greatly fear 
that the man will become deranged should any heavy calamity befall 



238 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

him. These remarks I have just read to Dr. Whitman and he concurs in 
what I have written, and says, moreover, that Mr. Spalding has a 
disease in his head, which may result in derangement, especially if 
excited by external circumstances. 

It would be unwise to accept this secondhand report of 
what Whitman said as a medical diagnosis, especially when 
we remember the venom into which Smith was dipping his 
pen when he wrote about Spalding. Whitman may have 
made such a statement in a half -joking manner. Whitman 
visited Smith at Kamiah during the latter part of October, 
1840, and it is possible that he and Smith then had oppor- 
tunity to discuss Spalding and that Smith added to the 
letter dated September 28. 

THE FIRST WAGONS TO THE COLUMBIA 

After the return of the Whitmans to Waiilatpu following 
the July mission meeting, several events of interest took 
place. On August 8, Joseph Maki, the faithful Hawaiian 
in their employ, died "of inflammation of the bowels," prob- 
ably appendicitis. [Letter 78.] Both Marcus and Narcissa 
were deeply affected as another grave was dug in the little 
mission cemetery. Mrs. Maki was sent back to Honolulu. 

When the American Fur Company disbanded in 1840, 
many of the mountain men were left stranded in the Rockies. 
Even in the best of times they seemed to have led a precarious 
existence. Many were killed. Others married Indian women 
and were adopted into the various tribes. Farnham gives 
the following description of Joseph Meek, whom he saw in 
the summer of 1839: 

Meek was evidently very poor; he had scarcely clothing enough to 
cover his body; and while talking with us the frosty winds which 
sucked up the valley made him shiver like an aspen leaf. He reverted to 
his destitute condition, and complained of the injustice of his former 
employers; the little remumeration he had received for the toils and 
dangers he had endured on their account, etc. a complaint I heard 
from every trapper whom I met on my journey. 13 

In 1840 another party of independent missionaries start- 
ed for Oregon, of whom mention will be made later. They left 
their two wagons at Fort Hall and continued the journey on 
horseback. The wagons became the property of a mountain 
man, Dr. Robert Newell (1807-1869), who accepted them 
in payment for services rendered the party as guide. A third 
wagon had been abandoned at Fort Hall that year by Joel P. 
Walker, who with his wife and five children constituted the 



Farnham, Travels, p. 292. 



THAT MAN SPALDING 239 

first emigrant family bound for Oregon. This wagon passed 
into the possession of Caleb Wilkins. Newell sold one of 
his wagons to Ermatinger, who was then in charge of Fort 
Hall, and Ermatinger employed William Craig, another 
mountain man, to be the driver for that wagon. These men, 
realizing that their trapping days in the mountains were 
over, had resolved to go to the Willamette. 

Newell induced Joe Meek to join the party. Meek's Nez 
Perce wife had deserted him, leaving him with a half-breed 
daughter then two or three years old. Meek had read Por- 
ter's Scottish Chiefs and admired the character of Helen 
Mar, so he had named his daughter after her. 14 

The party left Fort Hall on August 5 and reached 
Waiilatpu the first part of September. They were the first to 
take wagons west of Fort Boise over the Blue Mountains into 
the Columbia River Valley. Because of trouble with the 
heavy sage they were obliged to discard the wagon beds. 
Dr. Newell described their arrival at Waiilatpu as follows : 

In a rather rough and reduced state we arrived at Dr. Whitman's 
mission station in the Walla Walla Valley, where we were met by that 
hospitable man and kindly made welcome and feasted accordingly. On 
hearing me regret that I had undertaken to bring the wagons, the 
Doctor said, "O you will never regret it. You have broken the ice, and 
when others see that wagons have passed they too will pass, and in 
a few years the valley will be full of people." 

Newell stated that the Indians were much interested in 
the wagons, which were minutely examined. The Indians 
called them "land canoes." 15 Meek has left the record of 
how Dr. Whitman joked with him about his (Meek's) "mis- 
sionary labors among the Nez Perces," and killed a fat hog 
with the remark that "fat pork was good for preachers." 16 

Meek still entertained great admiration for Mrs. Whit- 
man and induced her to accept the care of little Helen Mar 
Meek. Mrs. Whitman later wrote that when she received 
the child she found her fretful, stubborn, and difficult to 
manage. The child's body was in a terrible condition. She 
was dirty, covered with lice, half -starved, and poorly clad. 
More than a year later Narcissa wrote that Helen Mar, then 
"subdued," was a comfort to her and her husband. [Letter 
105.] To a certain degree the little half-breed girl satisfied 



14 Victor, River of the West, p. 238. 

15 T.O.P.A., 1877, p. 22. 

16 Victor, op. cit., p. 280. 



240 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

the aching hearts of those who remembered their own little 
girl who was drowned. 

"THE MAN WHO CAME WITH US" 

The trouble within the mission which had come to a focus 
at the mission meeting held in July and had apparently been 
satisfactorily settled, still seethed underneath. Mrs. Whit- 
man wrote to her father on October 10, 1840, and gave the 
most outstanding bit of criticism of Spalding to be found in 
any of her extant letters. She wrote : 

Our trials dear father knows but little about. The missionaries' 
greatest trials are but little known to the churches. I have never 
ventured to write about them for fear it might do hurt. The man who 
came with us is one who never ought to have come. My dear husband 
has suffered more from him in consequence of his wicked jealousy, and 
his great pique towards me, than can be known in this world. But he 
suffers not alone the whole mission suffers, which is most to be 
deplored. It has nearly broken up the mission. 

This pretended settlement with father, before we started, was only 
an excuse, and from all we have seen and heard, both during the 
journey and since we have been here, the same bitter feeling exists. 
His principal aim has been at me; as he said, "Bring out her charac- 
ter," "Expose her character," as though I was the vilest creature on 
earth. It is well known I never did anything before I left home to 
injure him, and I have done nothing since, and my husband is cautious 
in speaking and thinking evil of him or treating him unkindly, as my 
own dear father would be, yet he does not, nore has he, received the 
same kindness from him since we have been missionaries together. 

At the close of this letter, Narcissa added : "Part of the 
contents of this sheet, ought not to be circulated ; it may do 
hurt. I do not wish it made public, for any one to make ill 
use of it." This is the only written statement of Narcissa's 
yet known which refers to the love affair with Spalding, and 
here the reference is indirect. 

Following the July mission meeting, the Grays had moved 
to Waiilatpu. Mrs. Gray was pregnant, and since no build- 
ings had been erected upon the approved site at Shimnap, 
there was nothing for them to do but to stay with the Whit- 
mans after they left Lapwai. Gray still harbored a grudge 
against Spalding. Later Whitman wrote to Greene, saying 
that both Gray and Smith failed to bring out all of their 
grievances against Spalding at the July, 1840, meeting and 
for that reason the same distrust continued which had char- 
acterized their work before that meeting was held. [Letter 
92.] 

On October 14, 1840, Gray wrote to Greene and gave 



THAT MAN SPALDING 241 

considerable detail regarding the quarrel. The next day 
Whitman wrote to Greene and referred directly to his dif- 
ferences with Spalding. Whitman wrote : 

Mr. Gray has lately informed me that letters have been sent by 
him & others, setting forth difficulties that have existed in this mission. 
It was never my intention to trouble you with them. I have thought 
them of such a nature that Mrs. Whitman & myself must leave the 
Mission ; & so strong was this feeling that I should have left, previous 
to the convening of the Mission in Sept. 1839, had not the Providence 
of God arrested me in my deliberate determination to do so by taking 
away our dear child in so sudden a manner by drowning. Since that 
time many appearances have changed, & I have not seen it my duty 
to leave. 

Thus the case stood against Spalding. Smith had written 
four letters against Spalding; Gray, three; Rogers and Hall, 
one each. Whitman in his letter of March 27, 1840, had tried 
to shift blame to Spalding for the extravagant demands made 
in 1838, and then in his letter of October 15, 1840, had made 
a restrained statement of the case. Whitman's last letter 
was received by Greene on October 2, 1841. Greene was dis- 
mayed when he read the accumulating criticisms against 
Spalding. On the basis of that evidence, Greene appeared 
before the Prudential Committee of the American Board the 
following spring and recommended that Spalding be dis- 
missed; that Gray and Smith be advised to return to the 
States ; and that Whitman and Rogers move to Tshimakain 
to live with Walker and Eells. Both Lapwai and Waiilatpu 
were to be closed. It was the arrival of this order from the 
Board in the fall of 1842 which inspired Whitman to leave 
at once for Boston. 

The year 1839-40 was a critical year in the mission. It 
was then that the internal dissensions reached their climax. 
Spalding was the focal point of trouble. Letters containing 
some sixty thousand words, mostly in criticism of "that man 
Spalding," piled up on Greene's desk. Spalding was ignorant 
of these letters. He sent in not one word of criticism of 
his fellow workers until he was told what the others had 
done. 

The last of the complaining letters which arrived in time 
to affect the Board's decision were written in October, 1840. 
It took two years before the consequences of those com- 
plaints were felt back in Oregon, and by that time the 
situation had vastly changed. 



CHAPTER TWELVE 

DISCOURAGEMENTS 
1840-1841 

rpHE FIFTH year of the Oregon mission brought many 
J- discouragements to the Whitmans. Difficulties seemed 
to crop up on all sides, both within and without the mission. 
The old quarrel with Spalding was renewed. Some members 
left the mission. Both of the Whitmans were sick for a time. 
All in all it was a hard year. 

Early in the fall of 1840 Walker wrote to Whitman and 
mentioned the possibility of selling the whole American 
Board mission to the Methodists. Walker later claimed that 
Whitman misinterpreted what was written. However, we 
find Whitman writing to Greene on October 15, 1840, saying: 

Mr. Walker writes me that he has written you in favour of the 
Boards withdrawing this Mission on account of so many coming in 
among & around us. I feel to say, No; Do not withdraw it. We have 
not done what we could, & ought to do. It could not be withdrawing 
the Mission, so to speak; but abandoning the cause of the Indians. 
Rather let us be reenforced to enable us to act more efficiently. 

I feel it a great trial to be in the most responsible part of the field, 
to fill alone, as I have done, the station of a public teacher or minister, 
school teacher, Physician, farmer, &c. 

The Board was conscious of the need for additional 
workers and sent out the Rev. and Mrs. J. D. Paris and Mr. 
and Mrs. W. H. Rice in November, 1840. However, when 
this party reached the Sandwich Islands on May 21, 1841, 
they met such discouraging reports of the condition in the 
Oregon mission, given largely by E. 0. Hall, that they 
decided to go no farther. They remained in the Islands. 

About the middle of August six more independent mis- 
sionaries unexpectedly appeared at Waiilatpu. They were 
the Rev. and Mrs. Harvey Clark, Mr. and Mrs. Alvin T. Smith, 
and Mr. and Mrs. Philo B. Littlejohn. Narcissa had known 
Mrs. Littlejohn back in New York State as Adeline Sadler. 
[Letter 217.] Of all the missionaries Mrs. Littlejohn was 
the only one whom Narcissa referred to by her first name. 
As has been mentioned, the missionaries habitually referred 
to each other by the proper title and the last name. There 
is no reason to believe that even in hours of closest fellow- 



DISCOURAGEMENTS 243 

ship either of the Whitmans ever called Mr. Spalding 
"Henry." They kept the formalities of their Eastern train- 
ing in Old Oregon. The fact that Mrs. Whitman referred 
to Mrs. Little John as Adeline indicates a former acquaintance 
of a friendly nature. 

These new missionaries, like the Griffins and the Mun- 
gers, believed that it was possible to establish a mission 
among the Indians without the aid of a mission board and 
with a limited financial reserve. They soon saw their error. 
Whitman was perplexed. He did not know what was the 
right thing to do. The Griffins had left Lapwai about the 
time the mission meeting was held there and had gone to 
Waiilatpu. Thus all five families of the independent mis- 
sionaries were at Waiilatpu in addition to the Grays and the 
Whitmans, making seven families in all. Fortunately the 
new mission house was ready and the old house was still 
usable. 

Narcissa probably objected to the crowded conditions 
more than did her husband. She wrote to her mother, saying : 
"We have no less than seven missionary families in our two 
houses. We feel that we need much patience and wisdom 
to get along with so many, and much strength." [Letter 78.] 

Whitman reported to Greene regarding his crops. With 
the aid of some of the independent missionaries, he har- 
vested "two hundred & fifty bushels of wheat, one hundred 
& thirty of corn, peas not known & a good supply of pota- 
toes." Whitman's letter of October 15 contains four pages 
of itemized purchases from the Hudson's Bay Company 
totaling 112.15.11. 

During the early part of October, A. B. Smith at Kamiah 
had trouble with the Indians there and sent a message to 
Spalding and Whitman, imploring them to come immediately. 
Spalding received his letter on the 15th and left at once. 
Whitman probably received his message a couple of days 
later. He left Waiilatpu on a mild day and did not take 
sufficient bedding with him. Narcissa wrote to her sister 
Harriet on the 20th, saying: "Think of him traveling alone 
this cold weather. The first [day] after he left his warm 
home, the wind blew very hard and cold he with but two 
blankets, sleeping on the ground alone; and since, it has 
rained almost every day, and sometimes snowed a little. I 
do not know when he will come home." [Letter 81.] 

Whitman found Smith thoroughly discouraged and ready 
to return to the States. Smith was entirely unfitted by dis- 



244 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

position for the pioneer life demanded by the circumstances 
under which he was living. The house he erected at Kamiah 
was a rude affair. Mrs. Smith was in poor health and des- 
perately lonely. Whitman wrote : "I think they both suffer 
much from this cause. I regret much that Mr. Smith should 
have been so anxious to go where he is, as he so easily falls 
into loneliness & despondency." [Letter 83.] Whitman 
also stated that Smith felt "he brought it on himself as a 
judgment for being in so much haste to be sent out (or in 
other words to get married.)" 

It appears that Whitman had written to Smith and 
passed on the statement of Walker's regarding the possi- 
bility of selling out to the Methodists. As soon as Spalding 
reached Kamiah, Smith brought up the proposal. Spalding 
was astonished. "My mind is thrown into confusion," he 
wrote in his diary for October 15. 

Whitman reached Kamiah on the 22nd with some horses 
to pack out Smith's belongings. However, it appears that 
the trouble with the Indians had been greatly magnified by 
the despondent Smith and that Spalding had encouraged 
him to remain. Whitman had suffered from exposure on his 
180-mile trip and was, therefore, in a mood to sympathize 
with Smith. Even though he had written but a few days 
earlier to Greene emphatically advising against giving up 
the mission, now he changed his mind. Smith was de- 
termined to leave the field. Whitman felt that Gray would 
also leave, and that he and Spalding would be alone in the 
Nez Perce work. Under those conditions, Whitman felt it 
best to give up the whole work. 

Spalding emphatically declared that he would never 
leave, even if the Board did sell to the Methodists. The dis- 
cussion must have waxed warm. Finally it was decided that 
Smith would remain, at least until spring, and that Mr. and 
Mrs. Harvey Clark should be sent to Kamiah to give com- 
panionship and to assist in the work. It was also agreed 
that Mr. and Mrs. A. T. Smith should be sent to Lapwai. 

Spalding hastened to send a messenger to Walker as soon 
as possible to discover whether or not Walker had been 
misquoted. The messenger returned on November 2 with 
word to the effect that "the Doct. must have misunderstood 
them as they never have thought of giving up the Mission." 
The following extract from Mrs. Walker's diary for Oc- 
tober 28 reflects the attitude of the Walkers and the Eells 
to the proposition : "We are astonished and somewhat indig- 



DISCOURAGEMENTS 245 

nant to think they should think of such a thing." We have no 
evidence that the Methodists were ever aware of this 
suggestion. 

Whitman spent the night of October 24 at Lapwai on his 
way back home. The next day Griffin arrived with letters 
from Jason Lee which had nothing to do with the proposed 
sale but informed them that Dr. Elijah White, the physician 
for the Methodist mission, had been dismissed from the 
mission and was returning to the States. Lee expressed the 
fear that White would do "all he can to injure them, but 
trusts all to the Lord." 1 White 'was a member of the first 
re-enforcement of the Methodist mission in Oregon. His 
party sailed from Boston in July, 1836. After serving as 
mission doctor for three years, he left because of differences 
of opinion with Lee and returned to the States on the 
Lausanne, which had brought out Lee and his party of some 
fifty missionaries that summer. The Lausanne reached Fort 
Vancouver June 1. 

Whitman got back to Waiilatpu on October 28 and the 
next day wrote a seven-page letter to Greene, in which he 
told of his trip to Kamiah and recommended the sale of the 
mission to the Methodists a direct reversal of his opinion 
expressed to Greene in a letter written just two weeks 
earlier. Whitman wrote : 

I would that the true causes were given for relinquishing the 
mission, as they exist in us & not altogether in the people & things 
more remote. It does not become me to speak by way of complaint of 
any one; but I may safely say we are greatly wanting in spirituality 
faith prayer and expectation of success. 

He was in favor of concentration of forces. Why should 
each minister spend so much time in farming and building ? 
Let him take care of the secular affairs at Waiilatpu, and in 
turn be relieved of teaching and preaching. It was a reason- 
able position to take. Whitman wrote : "If you sell out the 
mission you will be at liberty to send me to any field where 
I may be needed as Physician." If there was no place open, 
he expressed his expectation of either returning to the 
States or settling in the Lower Columbia country. 

Nothing ever came of the idea of selling out to the Metho- 
dists. Both Walker and Eells expressed themselves as being 
so strongly opposed that the idea was dropped as far as the 
Oregon mission of the American Board was concerned. 



Spalding diary, Oct. 25, 1840. 



246 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

THE WINTER OP 1840-41 

The Hungers and the Little Johns spent the winter of 
1840-41 with the Grays and the Whitmans at Waiilatpu. 
Mr. and Mrs. Griffin went to the Willamette Valley about the 
time the Clarks went to Kamiah and the A. T. Smiths to 
Lapwai. Mr. Munger gave Whitman and Gray considerable 
concern because of his increasing insanity. 

Both Dr. and Mrs. Whitman were ill during the winter. 
Dr. Whitman suffered from exposure on his Kamiah trip 
and from the excessive labor he put upon his millrace after 
his return. For a time he was obliged to rest. Then he was 
summoned to Fort Walla Walla on a sick call. Mrs. Whitman 
rode with him. On their return trip they found that the 
water in one of the streams which had to be forded had 
risen. Dr. Whitman's horse stumbled in midstream and 
threw him into the water. After getting out, the doctor 
wrapped himself in some blankets while his clothes dried by 
a fire. He tried to shake off the effects of the plunge into the 
cold stream but finally went to his bed, where he remained 
three weeks. Writing to Greene on March 28, 1841, he said : 
"From that time to this I have not been able to do anything 
that requires much effort." 

In September, 1840, Narcissa was "taken with inflamma- 
tion of the kidneys and brought very low." [Letter 78.] 
Writing to her mother in October, 'she confessed that she 
felt too indisposed to attempt teaching in the school that 
winter. In March, 1841, she stated in a letter to Mrs. Walker : 
"My health is quite poor yet I keep about most of the time." 
According to her husband, Narcissa resumed some of her 
duties in the schoolroom the latter part of March. [Letter 
86.] 

Narcissa also suffered from weak eyes. As early as 
September 30, 1839, she referred to this. On March 1, 1842, 
she wrote : "My eyes are much weaker than when I left home 
and no wonder, I have so much use for them. I am at times 
obliged to use the spectacles Brother J. G. so kindly furnished 



me." 



With this burden of ill-health, Narcissa frequently suf- 
fered spells of depression. To her father she wrote: "I 
suffer from dejection considerably feel the want of society, 
especially since the death of our dear Alice." [Letter 75.] 
Marcus was frequently called away on business or on medical 
calls. Whenever possible Narcissa would go with him, espe- 
cially if there were no white people at the mission during his 



DISCOURAGEMENTS 247 

absence expect herself. Writing to her sister Jane on March 
1, 1842, she made the following reference to her loneliness : 
"Jane, I wish you were here to sleep with me, I am such a 
timid creature about sleeping alone that sometimes I suffer 
considerably, especially since my health has been not very 
good." 

During the winter of 1840-41, the work of the mission at 
Waiilatpu was carried on by the Grays and the independent 
missionaries. Mrs. Gray had charge of the schoolroom. 
Gray himself was very slow in acquiring the language and 
so could do little in direct instruction. He took care of the 
outside work. 

The construction of the mill was completed during the 
winter. The waters of the little stream which emptied into 
the Walla Walla River near the mission house were dammed 
and a millpond formed, the outlines of which can still be seen. 
On March 28, 1841, Whitman stated that the mill would 
grind about a bushel and a half an hour. It was a small 
clumsy affair, yet it was able to make flour, for which they 
were duly grateful. 

THE SPRING OF 1841 

Walker visited Waiilatpu in the early part of March, 
1841, and persuaded Gray to return with him and assist in 
the erection of another house at Tshimakain. Gray went re- 
luctantly, for he was eager to begin work at his new station. 
He remained at Tshimakain for about a month. In spite 
of the vote of the mission at its last annual meeting, the 
sentiment was strong against the establishment of a new 
station. Whitman was opposed, as is indicated in the follow- 
ing statement he wrote to Greene : "It will not be long be- 
fore it will be apparent to all how foolish this extending 
system has been." [Letter 86.] 

Whitman was convinced that all of the cultivating should 
be done at Waiilatpu. He felt that the blacksmith shop, the 
printing shop, and mills should be located there. He then 
could supply the needs of the ministers, thus giving them 
more time for their specialized duties. 

When Walker and Gray left for Tshimakain, Mr. Walker 
carried a letter from Mrs. Whitman addressed to his wife. It 
seems that early that spring Mrs. Whitman had a moving 
religious experience which led her to examine her own heart. 
"For two or three days," she wrote to Mrs. Walker, "my dis- 
tress was very great." Inspired by a deep feeling of self- 



248 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

humiliation, she poured out her penitent feelings. No one 
ever condemned her as strongly as Narcissa in this letter 
condemned herself. 

I think I have not for a long time had so clear view of the state of 
my heart as I have for a few weeks past Perhaps never in my whole 
life have I been led to see so distinctly the hidden iniquity & secret 
evils of my heart. 

Of all persons I see myself to be the most unfit for the place I 
occupy on heathen ground. I wonder that I was ever permitted to come. 
... I see now as I never have before wherein I have been a grief to his 
children by indulging in unholy passions & exhibiting so little of the 
meek lowly & quiet spirit of our blessed Saviour. I have been blind to 
my own faults & have not known what manner of spirit I was of. 

Proud & self confident have I been. I do not wonder that brother 
Spalding if he saw this trait in my character felt that he could not 
come into the field if I did. Neither is it strange that the other mem- 
bers of the Mission should feel that they could not live with us. 
[Letter 85.] 

After a full and frank confession, Narcissa begged the 
forgiveness of the Walkers and the Eells. The letter un- 
doubtedly did much to establish that good feeling which 
thereafter existed between the Whitmans and their co- 
workers at Tshimakain. 

The spring planting season came, with the Indians, much 
to Whitman's encouragement, showing greater interest than 
ever in agriculture. In 1838 Whitman had written to his 
brother Augustus, asking for fifty plows and three hundred 
hoes. Augustus was authorized to draw upon some of Dr. 
Whitman's personal funds to the extent of two hundred dol- 
lars. The appeal for plows seems to have inspired the people 
of Rushville to donate twenty-five, for on May 24, 1841, 
Marcus wrote again to his brother, acknowledging receipt 
of the plows at Vancouver. He also stated that the Board 
had sent out ten. "The Indians are not backward in using 
them," he wrote, "I help them make collars & harness of a 
good quality & they have plenty of fine horses." [Letter 89.] 

In April, 1841, A. B. Smith decided that he would rather 
endure the stigma of leaving the mission than continue to 
live where both he and his wife were so thoroughly unhappy. 
According to Clark, Smith gave up the study of the Nez 
Perce language early in the spring of 1841 and began "to 
prepare himself for preaching in the States." [Letter 86.] 
In April, Smith had some further unpleasant experiences 
with the Indians and he made them an occasion to leave. 
His wife was too sick to ride horseback, so Smith loaded a 
few possessions in a canoe, and with his wife made the trip 



DISCOURAGEMENTS 249 

down the Clearwater to Lapwai, arriving there on the 21st. 

In the meantime sickness had visited Lapwai. Mrs. 
Spalding was ill during March, and the fore part of April. 
Little Henry Hart Spalding became ill on the 16th, and the 
next day Cornelius Rogers was stricken. Spalding sent an 
express to Waiilatpu, requesting Whitman's immediate 
assistance. The doctor reached Lapwai on Wednesday, April 
21, shortly before Mr. and Mrs. Smith arrived. Smith 
bluntly told Whitman and Spalding that he was through. 
He declared that he would leave the mission in disgrace 
rather than remain any longer with the Indians. All idealism 
was gone. As far as he was concerned the Nez Perces were 
doomed, and he did not care. 2 

Rogers, sick and likewise discouraged, listened to what 
Smith had to say and confessed that he felt the same way. 
As early as February 27, 1841, Rogers had written to Greene 
about his desire to leave the mission. Rogers declared: "I 
will simply say that Mr. Spalding is felt by me to be the 
principal cause of my course." 

Smith had sent his animals, loaded with most of his goods, 
overland. On the 22nd the Smiths in one canoe and Dr. Whit- 
man and Rogers in another started for Fort Walla Walla. 
Gray, who happened to be at Lapwai at the time, took 
Smith's pack train and Dr. Whitman's horses and went 
overland. The Smiths took the first opportunity to go to 
Fort Vancouver. There they remained for several months 
under the care of the doctors at the Fort. They sailed for 
the Sandwich Islands, arriving there January 25, 1842, and 
remained in the Islands doing missionary work until 1845. 
They then returned to the States by way of China. 3 Smith's 
most important contribution to the Nez Perce mission work, 
during the two and a half years he was a part of the mission, 
was along linguistic lines. At the time he left he had mas- 
tered the difficult language better than any of the other 
missionaries. He did excellent work on a Nez Perce grammar 
and dictionary. 

Rogers did not immediately leave the mission. He went 
to Waiilatpu, where he could be under Dr. Whitman's care. 
For a time he was very sick. Whitman wrote to Walker on 
April 19, saying that he feared "Brother Rogers may not 
recover." However, in time he regained his health and was 



2 Spalding diary, April 21, 1841. 

3 Eells, Marcus Whitman, p. 232. 



250 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

soon in the saddle riding to Fort Walla Walla. Pambrun 
conceived the plan of having Rogers marry his daughter 
Maria, and to the surprise and dismay of the missionaries, 
Rogers entertained the idea. The Whitmans felt that since 
Maria was an uneducated half-breed, she was not worthy 
of him. Besides, she was a Catholic. Pambrun's heart was 
set on the idea, and he worked assiduously to win Roger's 
approval. 

On May 11, Rogers and Pambrun were riding together. 
Pambrun was guiding his horse by a rope in the horse's 
mouth, Indian fashion. The animal managed to get the rope 
out and began to run and buck. Pambrun was thrown re- 
peatedly against the horn of the saddle and finally upon the 
ground, too bruised and maimed in the abdomen to walk. 
He was carried into his home where, after four days of ter- 
rible suffering, he died. Dr. Whitman was called at once. 
He wrote to Walker from the Fort on May 12, reporting on 
Pambrun's condition. Pambrun pled for some medicine 
which would put him out of his sufferings, but this Whitman 
refused to give. [Letter 91.] 

Pambrun died on May 15, and his body was taken to 
Fort Vancouver for burial. 4 Rogers was willed a hundred 
pounds sterling, and Maria was given more than would have 
been her fair share of the property. The Pambrun family 
with Rogers removed to Vancouver. According to Mrs. 
Whitman, Maria finally refused to marry Rogers. [Letter 
96.] He turned back the property he had received, and in 
September of the year following married Miss Satira Leslie, 
a daughter of a member of the Methodist mission. Rogers 
visited the Upper Columbia country again in the capacity of 
an interpreter both for the Wilkes party and for Elijah 
White, of whom mention will be made later. On February 
1, 1843, Rogers with his wife and several others were acci- 
dentally drowned when their boat was carried over the Wil- 
lamette Falls. Maria Pambrun had married Dr. Forbes 
Barclay, of the Hudson's Bay Company, in 1842. 

In his letter to Walker, Whitman reported that A. T. 
Smith, Harvey Clark, 5 and their wives had left with Mr. 



4 John Work, Journal, p. 174. 

5 Letter from W. A. Tenny, Jan. 19, 1897, to Myron Eells, Coll. W. : 
"It is a significant fact that the first church organized for white emi- 
grants was at Oregon City in 1844 by Rev. Harvey Clark, & was 
Presbyterian, & the second church for emigrants was in 1845 at Forest 
Grove & was Congregational. Mr. Clark was for some time the itinerant 
pastor of both churches at the same time." 



DISCOURAGEMENTS 251 

Ermatinger for Vancouver on May 11. Much of the personal 
possessions of the independent missionaries were left stored 
at Fort Walla Walla. On October 3, 1841, a fire swept 
through part of the Fort, destroying that part which con- 
tained their goods. It was a heavy loss for the missionaries. 
In 1845 the Littlejohn family returned to the States. The 
others of this group went to the Willamette Valley and 
entered into the life of the growing American community 
there. 

On May 24, 1841, Whitman found time to write a letter 
to his former preceptor, Dr. Ira Bryant, from which the 
following extracts are taken : 

My Dear Doct, and Mrs. Bryant: 

For the first time I sit down to write you. I do not see as you will 
be likely to write me first. You do not know how it seems at this dis- 
tance to be so much in the dark about old friends. Among my corre- 
spondents I get very imperfectly any account of my own dear Friends 
and Native Village. All forget to tell me who is President or Governor. 

The Region seems inexhaustible in its stores of pasturage. But it 
will not be easy to settle the Indians in this region for it will require 
the resource & enterprise of the white man to develop its resources 
by means of saw mills in the mountains to furnish timber for fences as 
well as building. 

The upper Columbia will not likely ever to be inhabited by a 
Settled People for if herding is stopped they must move around more 
or less for grass. We have a delightful climate in the upper Columbia. 
Not having as in the lower country a wet & dry Season. 

In order to get established I have labored most excessively but I 
am now so far broken that I cannot expect to accomplish much more 
manual labour. My Medical duties call me much from home as I have 
to go one hundred & eighty miles to the remotest Stations. 

In a summary way let me say we have a good convenient new 
house. That the old one yet stands occupied generally for two families 
& besides a house for company, that is people who want to stay a 
while or for passers is nearly finished. Then we have a good flour mill 
& some outhouses such as corn crib, granary, harness house, smoke & 
hen house, double back house Cow & Horse pen. 

I have little hope of ever returning to the U States. I have just 
heard that Harrison is President. The United States Pacifick Squad- 
ron was at the Islands a short time since & is soon expected in the 
Columbia. We are all in the dark as to the intention of the U S 
Government about this country. 

This is the earliest letter of Whitman's that we have in 
which we read of his political interests. Whitman was still 
thinking of the Upper Columbia as a grazing country. At 
first Spalding had the same idea, not dreaming that the hills 
of the Palouse country would ever be covered with wheat 



252 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

fields. 6 It is interesting to note that it took almost seven 
months for the results of the Presidential election of No- 
vember, 1840, to reach Oregon. William Henry Harrison 
was inaugurated into office on March 4, 1841, but died a 
month later and was succeeded by the Vice President, John 
Tyler. Several months had to elapse before Whitman learned 
of this. 

THE ANNUAL MEETING OF 1841 

The 1841 annual meeting of the Oregon mission was held 
at Waiilatpu from Wednesday, June 9, to Monday, the 14th. 
The diaries of both Spalding and Walker throw considerable 
light on the events of those days. Walker went to Fort Col- 
ville and made the trip to Fort Walla Walla by boat. While 
waiting for the doctor to come to take him out to the mis- 
sion, Walker wrote to his wife on May 31, giving her the 
news of the day. He was much concerned about the pro- 
posed marriage of Rogers with Maria Pambrun. Regarding 
A. B. Smith's departure, he wrote : "It is very plain that he 
has worked all manner of wags to get off without appealing 
to the Mission for advice or consent." He also reported that : 
"The Dr is not in very good spirits but is not discouraged." 7 

Whitman reached the Fort that night and the next day 
they rode out to the mission. Walker wrote in his diary for 
June 1 : "... found Mrs. Whitman cleaning her house. 
Took tea at Mr. Gray's. After that we rode out to see the 
mill race." Walker was not in good health and had arrived 
early in order to receive medical care. During these days 
he had several opportunities to talk with Dr. Whitman, and, 
judging by Walker's diary, it seems evident that the two 
men did not always agree. On the 4th he wrote : "Had more 
conversation with the Dr. and are more convinced that his 
course is wrong." Walker found Gray in a mood to justify 
Smith's conduct. 

Eells arrived on Monday, the 7th, and on the 8th, Mr. 



6 Since the publication of the author's biography of Henry Harmon 
Spalding, a new Spalding letter of about thirty-six hundred words, 
dated "Clearwater Aug. 17, 1842" has been discovered. The letter was 
addressed to "Mrs. Theo. Hinsdale Winchester Litchfield Co Conn." 
and was purchased by a stamp collector in a stamp shop in Boston. 
A copy is in the Oregon Historical Society. In this Spalding wrote 
about the development of the Upper Columbia country: "It can never 
become an agricultural country by reason of the scarcity of tillable 

land Though it is thought by good judges that many of the high 

plains might produce wheat." 

7 Coll. Wn. 



DISCOURAGEMENTS 253 

and Mrs. Spalding arrived, much to the surprise of those 
at Waiilatpu. Walker felt that Mrs. Spalding's presence 
was an "omen for good." The mission meeting opened that 
night. Walker was Moderator ; Eells was Scribe. It was soon 
apparent that an undercurrent of jealousy and dissatisfac- 
tion still existed. Walker wrote in his diary that evening: 
"I fear there is not much of the Spirit of prayer in the 
Mission." 

On Wednesday the financial report was studied. The 
total bill was four hundred pounds, which was about one- 
third less than the bill for the preceding year. 8 That night 
Walker again wrote in his diary: "The day passed quite 
pleasantly. There was a little sharp talk about some things, 
but ended pretty well." The next day was also given over 
to a consideration of financial matters. 

On Friday the tension increased when Dr. Whitman 
made some charges against Spalding, mentioning especially 
Spalding's alleged refusal to co-operate with Rogers in 
language study. Spalding resented the accusation. He wrote 
in his diary that all of the charges made "except one or two 
small things which occurred in the States and were long 
since settled" were either false or were due to misunder- 
stood Indian reports. From this we judge that the old 
statement Spalding made about "Mrs. Whitman's judg- 
ment" again came up for discussion. The echoes of the old 
love affair were heard again. 

Walker wrote that night : "Spent most of the day in con- 
versation. It came on so sharp that I was compelled to leave. 
It is enough to make one sick to see what is the state of 
things in the mission." 

The next day Spalding was shocked to learn that letters 
of complaint had been sent to the Board regarding him. He 
learned that Smith, Gray, Rogers, Hall, and even Dr. Whit- 
man, had sent in their criticisms. Walker made the follow- 
ing entry in his diary: 

I felt as did the rest that it was impossible for the Mission to ever 
come together in such a manner as to work more harmoniously to- 
gether; and nothing can, as it seems, bring peace but the removing of 
some of its members. What is to be the end of these things, I know 

not Notwithstanding a meeting was appointed this afternoon, and 

there was none on account of a conversation between Dr & his wife 
and Mr. Spalding & his wife. 

Spalding was stunned and humbled by the turn of events. 



8 See financial summary, Appendix 2. 



254 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

He wrote that night in his diary : "The Lord in great mercy 
look upon these men and forgive their sins to sustain his un- 
worthy servant to kindness under these accumulating trials." 
The next day he sought out another interview with the Whit- 
mans. According to his diary, Spalding confessed to Narcissa 
that he had said many things which had better been left un- 
said and begged her forgiveness. Spalding wrote : "But was 
astonished at self -righteousness manifested by our bro and 
sister." Whitman's account of this interview is to be found 
in a letter he wrote to Greene on July 13, 1841, from which 
the following is taken : 

We had a most plain talk with Mr. Spalding which resulted in his 
acknowledging himself to have been in the wrong in the leading causes 
of complaint & that he had been very jealous. I understood this to 
apply of the Mission as well as of ourselves. I will not be too sanguine 
of the future but this much I can say he has pledged himself that he 
will not be so jealous & that he will cooperate with the Mission & 
most especially with Mrs. Whitman & myself. 

That day Mr. Eells officiated at the communion service. 
The Littlejohns were present and had their little boy, 
Lever ett, who was later drowned in the millrace at Lapwai, 
baptized. 9 The Grays brought forward their little daughter, 
who was born at Waiilatpu the previous fall. She was given 
the name Caroline, and later became Mrs. Caroline Kamm, 
of Portland, Oregon. And the Whitmans came forward with 
Helen Mar Meek, the half-breed daughter of Joe Meek, then 
about three years old. 

The next day the business sessions were resumed, and 
adjournment was reached in time for those who lived else- 
where to leave early in the afternoon. On Saturday the 
mission had taken up Gray's case again. All seem to have 
felt that it was most inadvisable for Gray to begin a new 
station. Gray was asked to remain at Waiilatpu and co- 
operate with Dr. Whitman. While Gray appears to have 
been reconciled to the necessity of giving up his pet idea of 
a separate establishment, yet he was unhappy to occupy 
what he considered to be a subordinate place in the mission. 
The next year when he found an opportunity to work else- 
where, he did not hesitate to resign. 

THE SUMMER OF 1841 

Much to the joy of the Whitmans, Archibald McKinlay, 
a good Scotch Presbyterian, succeeded Pambrun at Fort 



9 Drury, Spalding, p. 198. 



DISCOURAGEMENTS 255 

Walla Walla. For some time the Whitmans had been wor- 
ried about the Catholics. Pambrun had in various ways ex- 
tended favors to the priests. Pambrun was especially friend- 
ly with Young Chief, also called Tawatowe or Tauitau, and 
had built a house for him on the Umatilla about twenty-five 
miles from Waiilatpu, in the fall of 1840. This act of kind- 
ness was used by the Catholic priests to gain a foothold 
among the Umatilla Indians. 10 

In a letter to her father, written October 1, 1841, Nar- 
cissa made reference to this incident in saying : 

Now we have Catholics on both sides of us, and, we may say, right 
in our midst, for Mr. Pambrun, while he was alive, failed not to secure 
one of the principal Indians of this tribe to that religion, and had his 
family baptized. He acts upon his band, and holds from us many who 
would be glad to come and hear us. And then, the Indians are acted 
upon constantly through the servants of the Company, who are all, 
scarcely without exception, Catholics. 

Pambrun was accustomed to pay responsible Indians for 
keeping the peace. [Letter 97.] When McKinlay was placed 
in charge of Fort Walla Walla in the summer of 1841, a 
different policy was adopted. Whitman was unable finan- 
cially to keep the good will of the Indians through constantly 
giving things to them and was, therefore, greatly relieved 
when McKinlay refused to continue Pambrun's practices. 
Once Narcissa wrote : 

From the commencement of this station until the present time, it 
has constantly been a point with one or more of them to be urging for 
property to be given them to keep them in subjection to order. 

It is difficult for them to feel but that we are rich and getting rich 
by the houses we dwell in and the clothes we wear and hang out to 
dry after washing from week to week, and the grain we consume in 
our families. [Letter 97.] 

Even the long line of the family wash drying in the sun 
awakened suspicion and jealousy in the hearts of the natives. 
Any kind of woven cloth was expensive to them, and, lo ! the 
white people had it in abundance ! 

The coming of the Catholics gave great concern to both 
Marcus and Narcissa, as well as to the other members of the 
Oregon mission. Narcissa wrote as early as September 30, 
1839 : "A Catholic priest has recently been at Walla Walla 
and held meetings with the Indians and used their influence 



! J. S. Griffin to Myron Bella, Feb. 4, 1884, Coll. W.: "I then told 
Whitman his cause was doomed to failure, as the Indians would from 
that time onward hold the H. B. Co & not himself, as their benefactors. 
That was the hinge upon which the death & the break up of the station 
finally turned." 



256 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

to draw all the people away from us." The Protestant mis- 
sionaries had followed the idea of baptizing none except those 
who showed evident signs of a changed heart. This accounts 
for the small number of Indians who joined the mission 
church. The Catholics, on the other hand, were freer in 
administering this rite. Whitman wrote to his brother 
Augustus on May 24, 1841, and said : "There is likely to be 
a strong Catholic division here for one thing. It has been 
fostered more or less by our late neighbor Mr. Pambrun." 

For various reasons, therefore, the Whitmans welcomed 
Mr. McKinlay to Fort Walla Walla. 

The United States Government sent out an exploring 
expedition under Lieutenant Charles Wilkes in 1838 which 
reached the mouth of the Columbia in April, 1841. During 
the summer of that year members of this expedition pene- 
trated into the interior and visited the various mission sta- 
tions, including Waiilatpu. The Whitman letters for the 
summer and fall of 1841 contain several references to mem- 
bers of this expedition. 

Joseph Drayton, who spent some time at Waiilatpu, has 
left for us a good description of the mission property and 
premises as he saw them. The following is an extract from 
his report : 

All the premises look very comfortable. They have a fine kitchen- 
garden, in which grow all the vegetables raised in the United States, 
and several kinds of fine melons. The wheat, some of which stood 
seven feet high, was in full head, and nearly ripe ; Indian corn was in 
tassel, and some of it measured nine feet in height. They will reap this 
year about three hundred bushels of wheat, with a quantity of corn 
and potatoes. The soil, in the vicinity of the small streams, is a rich 
black loam, and very deep. 

These missionaries live quite comfortably, and seem contented ; they 
are, however, not free from apprehension of Indian depredations. Dr. 
Whitman, being an unusually large and athletic man, is held in much 
respect by the Indians, and they have made use of his services as a 
physician, which does not seem to carry with it so much danger here, as 
among the tribes in the lower country, or farther north. 

Drayton reported that the price of a good horse was then 
about twenty dollars. He claimed that Whitman had 124 
Indians on his school roll, but because of the wandering 
habits of the tribe, the average daily attendance was but 25. 
He noted that a number of the Indians had small farms from 
which they were securing sufficient food. 11 

During the latter part of July, Dr. and Mrs. Whitman 



11 Wilkes, Expedition, Vol. 4, p. 399. 



DISCOURAGEMENTS 257 

rode to Tshimakain, arriving there on July 21. On July 27, 
Mrs. Eells gave birth to her first-born, a son whom they 
named Edwin. The Whitmans remained for several weeks 
before starting back. Walker mentions in his diary an excur- 
sion that the doctor and he made to Spokane Falls, now in 
the city of Spokane, Washington. Walker wrote for Satur- 
day, August 14 : "The Dr. has been as full of Geology as if 
he had eaten some half dozen quarto volumns on this 
subject." The Whitmans started back on the 16th, and 
Walker confessed in the privacy of his diary : "I must say I 
did not regret to see them depart." 

On August 9, while still at Tshimakain, Whitman wrote 
to his brother Samuel and discussed several items of interest. 
He wrote : "I am no more of an Abolitionist that I was for 
years before I left home. ... I do not feel as much attach- 
ment to Illinois as I did & I think it is the last State I would 
live in on account of its heavy debt & taxes. . . . Tell mother 
we are eating cheese of Mrs. Whitman's make; that milk 
& butter are most abundant with us & so will cheese be if we 
choose to make it. Calves rennet is a scarce article for. we 
value a calf the same as an old cow or ox for it costs nothing 
to raise them." 

Shortly after their return to Waiilatpu, six-year-old 
Mary Ann Bridger, the half-breed daughter of Jim Bridger, 
arrived and was received into the Whitman household. 12 
It is possible that she was brought by the Mungers, who had 
endeavored that summer to return to the States. Hunger 
had become hopelessly insane by the spring of 1841. Ar- 
rangements were made to have the Munger family go to the 
rendezvous with a Hudson's Bay party in the hope that some 
escort would be available to take them to the States from that 
point. However, the American Fur Company had dissolved 
in 1840, and no other group had been organized of a like 
nature. Hence, no caravan crossed the Plains in 1841, and 
the Mungers were obliged to return. They went to the 
Willamette Valley, where Mr. Munger secured a position 
with the Methodist mission at Salem. In December he com- 
mitted suicide. The whole affair was a trying experience 
for the Whitmans. 



12 Narcissa wrote on Oct. 6, 1841 : "My two little girls are a com- 
fort to me, in his absence, especially; they are both of them natives of 
the Rocky Mountains, and poor little outcasts when I took them. One 
of them is called Mary Ann and is the daughter of James Bridger, 
the man out of whose back the doctor cut an arrow point when he was 
up to the mountains the first time." 



CHAPTER THIRTEEN 

SPALDING IS DISMISSED 
1841-1842 

IN THE FALL of 1841 the first party of emigrants bound 
for the Willamette Valley passed the Whitman station. 
Narcissa wrote that they were "twenty-four in number 
two families with small children from Missouri." [Letter 
96.] They had left their wagons behind, so all were on 
horseback. Narcissa made special mention of one family 
with six children. "It was very pleasing to me," she wrote, 
"to see such a mother with so many children around her, 
having come so far such a dreadful journey." [Letter 97.] 
Marcus and Narcissa had often talked of the strategic 
location of the mission. With the passing of the years, the 
importance of the Oregon Trail began to be emphasized, with 
the ever-increasing migrations which passed their door. As 
early as May, 1840, Narcissa wrote : 

A tide of immigration appears to be moving this way rapidly. 
What a few years will bring forth we know not. A great change has 
taken place even since we first entered the country, and we have no 
reason to believe it will stop here. Instead of two lonely American 
females we now number fourteen, and soon may twenty or forty more, 
if reports are true. 

We are emphatically situated on the highway between the states 
and the Columbia river, and are a resting place for the weary travelers, 
consequently a greater burden rests upon us than upon any of our 
associates to be always ready. 

Whitman hired two of the men of the emigration to work 
for him. [Letter 101.] Each year thereafter he was able to 
secure some from each emigration to work at the mission 
station. Gray was busy building a house, which was later 
known as the mansion house. Because of the shortage of 
lumber, the walls were made of adobe bricks, and were a 
story and a half high, thus providing a low-roofed attic. By 
November 11, Gray had his new house roofed, and the walls 
were then being "hewed and plastered." [Letter 100.] 
Whitman has left no record as to what became of the first 
old adobe house. None of the reconstructed drawings of the 
Waiilatpu site indicate the presence of this building. It 
certainly was not used as a dwelling during the days before 



SPALDING IS DISMISSED 259 

the massacre, when Waiilatpu was crowded with emigrants. 
It may have been used as a storehouse or workshop. 

TROUBLE WITH THE INDIANS 

On November 11, 1841, Whitman wrote a long letter to 
Greene in which he related some of the difficulties they had 
been having with the Indians. Mrs. Whitman copied this 
entire letter when writing to her father under date of No- 
vember 18. 

Whitman reported that during the summer some of the 
Indians had been most insolent to him when he sought to 
remove their horses from his cornfield. One of the trouble- 
makers by the name of Tilkanaik claimed that the land be- 
longed to the Indians and wanted to know what Whitman 
had given for the land. Whitman refused to give anything, 
knowing that such a practice once begun would degenerate 
into an endless system of blackmail. He reminded the mal- 
contents of the eagerness of the Indians to have missionaries 
settle in their midst and of the promises made them. 

Tilkanaik was in an argumentative mood, and became 
belligerent. He struck Whitman twice severely upon the 
breast and commanded him to stop talking. "I told him," 
wrote Whitman, "that I had been in the habit of talking 
from my childhood and intended to keep on talking. This 
Indian Tilkanaik has for the year past been practicing the 
ceremonies of the Papists." 

Other incidents followed, the most serious of which was 
one which involved W. H. Gray and Joe Gray, a half-breed 
Iroquois who had been in the service of the Hudson's Bay 
Company but was then living with the Indians near Waiilat- 
pu. Whitman claimed that Joe Gray was a Catholic and had 
fomented trouble among the Indians by telling them that the 
missionaries ought to pay the Indians for the use of the 
land. Whitman wrote to Mr. McKinlay on September 30, 
1841, and said : "I fear Joe Gray may have been the cause of 
much of the present excitement. An Indian told me he had 
been telling Tiloukaikt how the Indians did in his country 
and raised disturbances and by that means got property." 

It seems that the trouble came to a climax on Saturday, 
September 25, when W. H. Gray forcibly ejected an Indian 
from the kitchen upon complaint of the Hawaiian woman 
cook. The Indian then went to the horse pen and tried to 
take one of Gray's horses. Gray put him out of the pen, but 
in the afternoon the Indian returned and succeeded in get- 



260 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

ting the horse. Whitman saw the deed and asked him "if he 
made himself a thief how he expected to cleanse himself." 
[Letter 95.] 

A group of Indians gathered before the mansion house, 
where Gray was working. Tiloukaikt ordered Gray to leave 
the mission premises. Whitman induced Gray to keep still 
for he was afraid of Gray's impetuosity in a critical situa- 
tion. Let Whitman tell the story. 

He said again that Mr. G. was laboring in vain for he must leave. 
I told him it was natural for us to labor, and we would not desist 
although we might labor in vain. I told him, also, that if Indians came 
into Mr. G's house or my house and refused to do as we desired, it was 
right for us to put them out. 

He then took hold of my ear and pulled it and struck me on the 
breast, ordering me to hear as much as to say, we must let them do 
as they pleased about our houses. When he let go I turned the other 
to him and he pulled that, and in this way I let him pull first one and 
then the other until he gave over and took my hat and threw it into 
the mud. I called on the Indians who were at work for Mr. G. to give 
it to me and I put it on my head when he took it off again and threw 
it in the mud and water, of which it dipped plentifully. Once more 
the Indians gave it back to me and I put it on, all mud as it was, and 
said to him, "Perhaps you are playing." At this he left us. [Letter 
100.] 

When McKinlay learned of the incident, he sent his in- 
terpreter to find out what actually had taken place. McKinlay 
was quick to espouse Whitman's rights. Through his in- 
terpreter he told the Indians that he considered those who 
so conducted themselves as dogs, a most uncomplimentary 
term to be used, and he warned them that the Company 
stood ready to avenge any wrong. 

The Indians were much wrought up over being called 
dogs, and a group of them called on Whitman on Saturday, 
October 2. The Whitmans were accustomed to restrict the 
Indians to the Indian room of the mission house, but on this 
occasion they pushed themselves into the dining room. 
Whitman tried to lock out some of the unruly individuals 
and as a result one of them took an ax and broke a door. 
The chiefs did nothing to restore order. One Indian grabbed 
Whitman by the collar, tore his clothes, and struck him with 
his fist. Another advanced with a club, and when Whitman 
dodged the blow, ridiculed him for fearing death. A gun 
was presented at the doctor, and he was asked if he were 
afraid to die. 

Whitman remained calm throughout the trying experi- 
ence. He showed them the consequences which would come if 



SPALDING IS DISMISSED 261 

they killed him. The Indians wanted the Whitmans to leave 
the doors open for the Indians to come and go through the 
house as they pleased, but this Dr. Whitman refused to do. 
They demanded some property, which Whitman refused to 
give. Whitman bluntly told them that Joe Gray was at the 
bottom of the trouble, and this they admitted. Finally the 
Indians withdrew, leaving the Whitmans and the Grays to 
wonder what the next day would bring forth. 

Whitman tried to conduct worship the next day, but only 
a few came. Many about the grounds were insolent and 
committed acts of vandalism, such as the breaking of win- 
dows in the house. When some of them left for the Fort, 
Whitman sent a messenger to warn McKinlay to be pre- 
pared for them. McKinlay called a number of the prominent 
Indians together, including Tiloukaikt, and told them that 
if any harm befell the Whitmans, Dr. McLoughlin would 
send up a sufficient number to avenge their deaths and that 
the white men would take the Indians' horses in com- 
pensation. 

McKinlay wrote to Whitman on October 4 and told him 
of the conference. "This is the first time," he wrote, "I have 
heard of Indians in any part of the country treating mis- 
sionaries so, and that I never heard in any country of mis- 
sionaries being obliged to pay for the lands they occupied." 
McKinlay felt that the Indians would do better. He warned 
Whitman against the custom of "paying them for their bad 
conduct." 

On the Tuesday following, Whitman called the Indians 
together for a conference and frankly told them "unless they 
were ready to protect us and enforce good order, we would 
leave them ; that we did not come to fight them but to teach 
them." Tiloukaikt, who still smarted under the rebuke given 
him by McKinlay, and especially because he had been called 
a dog, felt it expedient to preserve order. 1 

Narcissa, in a letter to her sister Jane, dated February 2, 
1842, speaks of another incident which did not become quite 
so serious, yet was very threatening. When Dr. Whitman 
had rebuked the Indians about some matter, a dozen or so 
with rope, bows and arrows, and war clubs gathered to 



1 Allen, Ten Years in Oregon, p. 176, gives Elijah White's version 
of this incident. White gives the following: "It is generally thought, 
and possibly with truth, that, on this occasion, Dr. W. would have been 
killed, had not a party of white men arrived just at this moment." 
Whitman makes no mention of such a party. 



262 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

frighten him. Narcissa was much alarmed, but again Dr. 
Whitman succeeded in calming them. These incidents fore- 
shadowed coming events. 

THE OLD QUARREL AGAIN 

In August, Spalding had received two letters from Greene 
which not only cheered him up but made him feel justified 
in some of his positions. Spalding made a special trip to 
Tshimakain to show the letters to Walker and Eells. During 
October, Spalding and Eells visited Waiilatpu to get sup- 
plies. Spalding, fortified by the feeling that Greene approved 
of his ideas, became self-confident. Whitman, writing to 
Greene on October 22, said : "When I last wrote you I told 
you I thought we were prepared to cooperate together but 
more recent facts have shown that hope to be vain, for Mr. 
& Mrs. Spalding have proved it otherwise." Spalding wanted 
to make a reconciliation, but Whitman refused since Mrs. 
Spalding was not present. "We did not go any further," he 
wrote to Greene, "than to agree, to act as being under 
covenant relations." 

From Spalding's diary we learn that Dr. Whitman and 
a Mr. Cook, who was then in Whitman's employ, reached 
Lapwai on the evening of November 26, to help Spalding 
build his mill. On the Sunday following, November 28, Whit- 
man addressed the natives assembled there for worship. 
Spalding had conducted special evangelistic meetings during 
October with good results. He brought forward several In- 
dians who were ready to join the church, but Dr. Whitman 
was reluctant to receive them. On December 3, Spalding 
wrote in his diary : 

Doct. W. is not willing that these persons who have been examined 
& who give satisfactory evidence that they are new creatures in Christ 
should be received into the church till our difficulties are settled. He 
read over a long list of charges against me many of which were true 
and for which I told him I was willing and anxious to make any con- 
cessions or do anything he wished if he would let me know his wish as 
most of them had been often rehersed & I as often intended to 
acknowledge my faults, but thought he did not directly say what he 
wanted still he gave us plainly to understand that nothing short of 
excission from the Mission would satisfy him & Mr. Gray. Many of 
the charges were facts perverted and many of them direct falsehoods 
got up by somebody. 

The old quarrel, like a restless volcano, was about to 
erupt again. Spalding's mention of Gray indicates that Gray 
was helping to keep the issue alive. However, it seems 



SPALDING IS DISMISSED 263 

strange that Whitman should have permitted this quarrel to 
keep deserving Indians from joining the church. 

While at Lapwai, Dr. Whitman had the blacksmith shop 
dismantled. The equipment was to be taken to Waiilatpu. 
Whitman promised to send back a small set of tools for 
Spalding's use. Chief Joseph returned with Whitman and 
Cook on December 7 to bring back four plows which Whit- 
man had promised to give Spalding. 

After their return to Waiilatpu, Whitman and Gray built 
a blacksmith shop between their two dwellings. The next 
February, Whitman requested Spalding to send some bolting 
cloth for the mill and some apple trees. Spalding sent fifty 
young trees on the 23rd. 2 During the winter of 1841-42, 
Spalding had a troubled conscience over his relationships 
with others in the mission, so when he sent the apple trees 
to Whitman he also sent letters to the various members of 
the mission in which he again confessed his sins and begged 
their forgiveness. These letters were addressed to "Doct. 
Whitman and wife, Mr. Gray and wife, Mr. Walker and wife, 
Mr. Eells and wife and Mr. Rogers." Spalding mentioned 
this in his diary and added : "I trust by the grace of God I 
humbly repent of my sins against these brethren and 
sisters." 3 

On March 5, Spalding received an answer from the 
Whitmans and the Grays. He wrote in his diary for that day : 
"Instead of complying the requirement of Jesus in Luke 
17 :4 [And if he sin against thee seven times in the day, and 
seven times turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt 
forgive him.] they partly grant our request but wish us to 
meet them in answer to whatever charges they may wish to 
bring against us." Whitman was willing to turn the other 
cheek to the Indians, and even let them pull both ears and 
repeatedly throw his hat into the mud, but his patience with 
Spalding seems to have become exhausted. 

THE SPRING OP 1842 

The winter of 1841-42 passed quietly at Waiilatpu with 
no further difficulties with the Indians. The Walkers were 



2 On October 13, 1936, while visiting the site of Spalding's first 
home at Lapwai with Dr. A. H. Limouze, of New York City, and Dr. 
and Mrs. J. M. Cornelison, of Pendleton, Oregon, the author found a 
shoot growing out of an old apple-tree stump on which were some 
apples. These were identified as the Genitan, a fall apple common in 
New York State one hundred years ago. 

3 Spalding diary, Feb. 23, 1842. 



264 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

expecting their third child in March, and Whitman was 
asked to be present. The doctor reached Tshimakain on 
March 5 and remained there until the 21st. Mrs. Walker 
gave birth on the 17th to a boy who was named Marcus Whit- 
man Walker. This was the third boy to be named after 
Whitman during his lifetime. A few years later he was 
honored a fourth time in the same manner. 4 Whitman spent 
his spare time at Tshimakain in checking a translation of 
the first ten chapters of Matthew which Spalding had sent 
to him to be corrected. Spalding was able to print between 
four and five hundred copies of the Gospel according to 
Matthew on the mission press in 1845. Although Whitman 
could do little along literary lines, yet his assistance was 
sought in making the translation as accurate as possible. 

On March 2, the day after Dr. Whitman left Waiilatpu, 
two Indian women called on Mrs. Whitman, bringing with 
them a "miserable looking child, a boy between three and 
four years old," and requested her to care for him. The child 
was a half-breed, with a Spanish father who was once in the 
employ of the Hudson's Bay Company, and a native mother. 
It appears that his parents had deserted him and that his 
Indian grandmother had cared for him for a time. The poor 
little lad was in a worse condition than was Helen Mar Meek 
when she was left at Waiilatpu. He was nearly naked, half- 
starved, and his body was covered with dirt and lice. Some 
Indian boys had shaved a strip "as wide as your finger . . . 
from ear to ear, and also from his forehead to his neck, 
crossing at right angles," in order to make him look ridicu- 
lous. One of his feet had been badly burned where he had 
been pushed into a fire. 

At first Narcissa felt that she could not add to her duties, 
for she then had two half-breed girls with her. The forlorn 
boy was taken by his grandmother that night, but the next 
day she brought him back again. Narcissa found that she 
could not shut her heart against such need. "I washed him, 
oiled and bound up his wounds, and dressed him and cleaned 
his head of lice," she wrote. [Letter 105.] She found that 
he was much younger than she had first thought, being not 
much more than two years old. The hardships through 
which he had already passed made him appear older. As she 
cared for him, she wondered what she would call him. In 
memory she went back to her schooldays at Prattsburg and 



4 The fourth boy was Marcus Whitman Saunders, born May 8, 1846. 



SPALDING IS DISMISSED 265 

she thought of a schoolmate, David Malin, who had married 
her friend, Mary Porter. She called the lad David Malin. 5 
While Dr. Whitman was still absent, or on the morning 

I of March 12, Mrs. W. H. Gray gave birth to a baby girl. Mrs. 

\ Whitman was far from well. The day before, she had been 

seized with severe pains in her stomach, yet when the call 
came for help she dressed and went over to the mansion 

I house. She spent the whole day there assisting in the care 

of the mother and child. That evening she went back to her 
own rooms. On the 14th she wrote in her letter to her sister : 

I have this day entered upon my thirty-fifth year, and had my dear 
Alice C. been alive she would have been five years old, for this was her 
birthday as well as mine. Precious trust! . . . Spent the day with 
Sister G., although not able to do much. Have been taking medicine and 
feel some better this eve. . . . [Letter 105.] 

Whitman returned on the 26th, much to Narcissa's joy. 
Mr. Eells came with him to get some supplies. After his 
return, Whitman busied himself with the spring planting. 
The Indians were cultivating more than ever. Writing to 
Mrs. Parker on July 25 of that year, Narcissa said : "The 
success of the Kayuses in farming is pleasing beyond descrip- 
tion. There is scarcely an individual of them but what has 
his little farm some where & every year is extending it 
farther & farther." She admitted that the Nez Perces were 
more industrious than the Cayuses. Spalding was having 
remarkable success in his endeavors to settle the Indians. 

The annual meeting of 1842 was scheduled to meet at 
Waiilatpu on Monday, May 16. Whitman and Gray sent a 
joint letter to Greene on May 12. The letter was written by 
Whitman. From it the following extracts are taken : 

In relation to the internal affairs of the mission there is no change, 
at least all things remain as they were last fall & no better understand- 
ing with Mr. Spalding. The proposed meeting for a settlement in 
the winter he refused to attend. 

The natives at this station have never appeared better & more 
quiet than at present. They have gone on with the cultivation with 
their usual energy & are gradually enlarging their little farms 

In this letter we also read the significant statement: 



5 David Malin, b. Jan. 21, 1805, attended Franklin Academy. His 
name is found with Spalding's on the Academy roll, April 23-Sept. 23, 
1829. A.B., Hamilton College, 1833. Attended both Auburn and 
Princeton Theological Seminaries. Was pastor of 15th St. Presby- 
terian Church, Philadelphia, 1870-1878, where Spalding visited him. 
(See Drury, Spalding, p. 391.) Died, Dec. 25, 1885. Mrs. Pringle in 
Clark, Pioneer Days, Vol. 2, p. 521, claims that David's last name was 
Cortez. 



266 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

"There will probably be a large party of emigrants coming to 
this country in the spring of 1843. Some young men are now 
returning with the expectation of bringing out a party next 
spring." In the light of the extravagant claims made for 
Whitman in regard to the 1843 emigration, it is interesting 
to note that he was aware of the possibility of the coming of 
a large party a year before they arrived. 

THE ANNUAL MEETING OP 1842 

The Walkers and their three children, the youngest but a 
few months old, and the Eells with their little boy, made the 
long trip down to Waiilatpu. Spalding, embittered over the 
turn of events, notified the brethren that he would not be 
present. The mission opened on schedule time. Walker and 
Eells were re-elected to their respective offices of Moderator 
and Scribe. Spalding's letter of explanation regarding his 
absence was read. Those present felt that the time had come 
for a final settlement. Whitman had expressed his feelings to 
Greene in his letter of May 12, when he wrote : "We hope 
soon to be able to say all are united either in a final separa- 
tion, or in everlasting union & cooperation." The members 
of the mission felt that Spalding's reasons were insufficient 
and sent a messenger requesting his immediate attendance. 
They then adjourned to await his coming. Spalding appeared 
on Thursday, May 26, and the mission resumed its meetings 
the next day. 

Greene's letters of November, 1840, and March, 1841, 
were read, and Walker, Eells, and Spalding were appointed 
to reply. It appears that the women were invited to listen 
in on the frank discussions which were held. Mrs. Walker 
wrote in her diary for Monday, May 30 : "We all attend the 
services and hear much to make our ears tingle." It was 
finally decided that each would write out what he considered 
to be the chief difficulties, and then each would give specifi- 
cations as to how the difficulties could be solved. On Tues- 
day, May 31, Walker wrote in his diary: 6 "Had a hard ses- 
sion to day and there was so much bad feeling manifested 
that I said that I thought it was an abomination for us to 
meet and pray." 

A review of the account of those eight days as given to 



6 The original of Walker's diary is in the Huntington Library, San 
Marino, California, with the exception of the entries for 1842, which 
part is in the Oregon Historical Society. His diary covers the dates 
Mar. 7, 1838-Oct. 4, 1838; Jan. 5, 1841-Oct. 13, 1848. 



SPALDING IS DISMISSED 267 

us by Walker in his diary shows that he placed most of the 
blame for the unhappy condition of the mission on Whitman. 
On June 1, Walker and Eells took a long ride in the rain 
"and felt that all hope was gone." On the 2nd, the mission 
faced the consequences which would follow if a reconciliation 
were not reached. Walker then wrote: "I felt much and 
said considerable, and hope that it was not in vain. I think 
there was a better state of feeling than there has been since 
the session began." The next day was another hard day. 
Walker wrote in his diary : "My feelings have been anything 
but calm. I have been much moved by some threats the 
Doctor made, that if he, was not allowed to pursue his own 
course he would leave the Mission. The Doctor asked to be 
allowed to go on in his own way without being checked." 

Walker could scarcely sleep that night for worry. What 
would the mission do without a doctor ? Mrs. Walker's diary 
contains the following entry for June 3 : 

Soon after the opening of the session Dr. W. began to call Mr. 
Spaulding to account. Mr. Rogers thought Dr. W. wrong. Much talk 
followed and the Dr. was allowed to proceed. The appearance is such 
as to excite much concern on the part of some if not all and lead us 
to fear there will be no sound settlement effected. 

If any restraint is laid on the Dr. or if he suspects he is not to have 
his own way entirely, he immediately threatens to leave the mission. 7 

The next day Whitman and Spalding had a private con- 
ference, after which they asked all to assemble, whereupon 
Spalding began his confession, which Mrs. Walker described 
was "as humble as could be wished." She also added : "The 
minds of all were relieved." Unfortunately the last entry in 
Spalding's diary closes with March 1, 1842, so we do not know 
how he felt those days. It seems, however, that Whitman 
and Spalding had gone to the root of their grievances and 
settled them for all time, for this is the last time we hear of 
the unpleasant dispute. 

Worship services were held on Sunday with Mr. Walker 
as the preacher. The mission continued its business sessions 
for two days more. Spalding started back to his station on 
Wednesday the 8th. Before he left he signed a letter pre- 
pared by Walker, Eells, and himself which was sent to 
Greene. In this they stated that an eight-day mission meet- 
ing had been held, and after a full investigation, all diffi- 
culties had been settled. 



7 It is not clear just what Rogers was doing at this meeting. He 
may have been in the vicinity and was called in as a witness. 



268 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

The members of the mission discussed the possibility of 
the Board's taking some serious action on the basis of the 
complaints sent in, so, to forestall any order disastrous to 
the welfare of the mission, decided that before any such 
action would be binding the Prudential Committee should 
be informed of the new developments. Hence the following 
paragraph in the letter to Greene of June 8 : 

It was the unanimous opinion at the close of the investigation that, 
should the Prudential Committee have taken any action on any com- 
munication yet unanswered, that the Mission ought to wait until this 
communication can be answered. 

As later events proved, this vote was of the utmost im- 
portance to Spalding. The following motion, introduced by 
Gray, was also accepted at this mission meeting : 

Resolve. That in view of the state of this Mission, especially the 
station at Lapwai, we deem it advisable that Rev. H. H. Spalding 
remove to Waiilatpu to take charge of the natives at this place for the 
present, and that Dr. Whitman remove to Lapwai to take charge of 
that station till circumstances shall warrant a return. 8 

That was a strange action to take and evidence is lacking 
to fully explain it. In July both Walker and Spalding were 
at Waiilatpu to get some supplies. For various reasons, 
Whitman, Walker, and Spalding all felt that the exchange 
of stations should not be made. Spalding reported some new 
developments at Lapwai which made a transfer unwise at 
that time. Eells, writing to Greene on October 3, 1842, de- 
clared that Gray "strongly urged it be made even if the 
life of Dr. W. should be endangered, also expressed a regret 
that he was connected with a mission which had not courage 
to carry out such a vote." Gray was adamant and refused to 
reconsider. Walker was asked to talk the matter over with 
Eells and send back a reply. 

Under date of August 10, 1842, Walker and Eells sent 
back their reply, in which they recommended that the ex- 
change be not made. 9 Gray, who was ready to leave the 
mission, grasped this incident as an occasion to resign. 
Either Whitman and Spalding would exchange stations or he 
would go. Whitman felt it best to make the long trip to 
Tshimakain to talk to Walker and Eells about it. He ar- 
rived at their place on August 24. Gray sent a message 
strongly urging Walker and Eells to reconsider. Whitman 
let it be known that if the exchange were not made Gray 



8 Quoted from Marshall, Acquisition of Oregon, Vol. 2, p. 112. 

9 Frontier, Nov., 1930, p. 76. 










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SPALDING IS DISMISSED 269 

would probably go to the Willamette. Walker and Eells 
refused to change their minds. 

Whitman returned to his station on the 29th. Gray half 
expected what the verdict would be and had made prepara- 
tions to visit the Lower Columbia country. He left on the 
j 31st to see what arrangements he could make there for him- 

] self and his family. Whitman informed Walker and Eells 

I of the developments and said that if Gray could find no 

1 opening in the Willamette he would return to the States the 

1 next spring. 

1 DR. ELIJAH WHITE 

\ 

During the absence of Gray, Dr. Elijah White arrived 
at Waiilatpu with the emigration of 1842, consisting of 114 
people. After White's dismissal from the Methodist mis- 
sion, he returned to the States, where he succeeded in 
securing an appointment as Indian Agent for the United 
States Government for Oregon Territory. This was the 
first time that the United States Government had appointed 
any person in any official capacity for the Pacific Northwest. 
As was subsequently proved, White lacked the fundamental 
qualifications to make a successful agent. He was somewhat 
pompous and delighted in showing his authority. On the 
other hand, it must be stated that the Government gave him 
very little active assistance. The Methodist missionaries of 
Oregon were rather dismayed to see one of their former 
number returned in a governmental capacity. 

Judging by White's letters to the Commissioner of In- 
dian Affairs, we learn that White was intensely interested 
in the Linn bill, which was then being considered by Con- 
gress. 10 White was a politician, and saw what he thought 
was a fine chance to get a political appointment. He ac- 
cepted the office of Indian Agent with the hope that it would 
lead to something much better. 

The second session of the Twenty-seventh Congress sat 
from December 6, 1841, to August 31, 1842. The Oregon 
question was then becoming one of the main issues of the 
day. President Tyler, in his message to Congress, approved 
the recommendation of John C. Spencer, then Secretary of 
War, for the establishment of a "chain of military posts from 
Council Bluffs to some point on the Pacific Ocean within our 
limits." 11 This, he pointed out, would benefit those engaged 



!0 Old Indian Files, Washington, D. C. 
11 Marshall, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 212. 



270 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

in the fur trade, and be the means of establishing safe inter- 
course "between the American settlements at the mouth of 
the Columbia River and those on this side of the Rocky 
Mountains." 

On December 16, 1841, Senator Lewis F. Linn, of Mis- 
souri, introduced his bill, which was designed to hasten the 
occupation and settlement of Oregon. It promised a section 
of land to every settler. On April 13 and 15, 1842, Senator 
Linn spoke at length in favor of the bill and said: "There 
could be no dispute about the right of the United States to 
all the region south of the Columbia River, a right which 
Great Britain had fully conceded. The only question was 
to the right of the United States to the territory north of 
the Columbia River." 12 

The arrival on April 4, 1842, of Lord Ashburton from 
England to negotiate a treaty with the United States caused 
Congress to postpone definite action on the Oregon question 
until after the treaty had been signed. The Webster-Ash- 
burton Treaty was concluded on August 9, 1842. Even 
though Lord Ashburton had instructions from his govern- 
ment to deal with the Oregon boundary question, the treaty 
had nothing to say about it. Rather, it dealt with the boun- 
dary question affecting Maine and Canada. Webster felt 
that the time was not ripe to settle the Oregon issue and 
deliberately kept it out of their discussions. 

These were some of the issues in which Elijah White was 
tremendously interested. He had been in Oregon and he 
felt that the day was rapidly approaching when the United 
States would extend its full jurisdiction over that country. 
His letters reveal his eagerness to get a political appoint- 
ment as soon as the Linn bill passed. White wrote to the 
Commissioner of Indian Affairs from Independence, Mis- 
souri, on May 11, 1842, and referred to the great interest 
manifested on the frontier in the Linn bill. 

On May 15, White left Independence with the 1842 emi- 
gration to Oregon, which then numbered 105. There were 
many who were unable to make their arrangements in time 
to go that year but declared they would be in the 1843 party. 
The great movement which sent thousands over the Oregon 
Trail was fully launched. 

White wrote to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs from 
Fort Laramie on July 2 and from Fort Hall on August 15. 
In the latter letter he stated : 



12 Ibid., p. 426. 



SPALDING IS DISMISSED 271 

Our party instead of diminishing has now increased to one hundred 
and twelve. ... 

To get this large company through I had been under the necessity 
of expending in order to their comfort and safety, some eleven hundred 
Dollars of my own funds, I hope and trust I will be excused from 
drawing on the Treasury for the Pilotage for $250.00 which at this 
date we could not raise among us to save our heads all other pilotage 
has been at my expense shall this be at Government's or mine? . . . 

My reception at this one of the "Hudson's Bay posts" has been 
kind and handsome showing their usual hospitality notwithstanding 
they were previously made acquainted with the strength of our party 
and my appointment. 

The members of the 1842 emigration started out with 
nineteen wagons, none of which were taken west of Fort 
Hall. From White's letter of August 15, it appears that he 
had secured Government funds to subsidize the 1842 emi- 
gration. This is a most interesting fact if true. According to 
Bancroft, Jason Lee received a subsidy from the "secret- 
service fund" of the Government to assist in the cost of 
taking the great missionary re-enforcement of 1839 to 
Oregon. 13 It is possible that White received financial assist- 
ance from the same source. 

On October 15, White wrote to the Commissioner of 
Indian Affairs from the Willamette Valley stating that 114 
persons had reached their destination. Six of those who 
started died on the way. Several joined the party en route, 
thus accounting for the fact that more reached the Willam- 
ette Valley than started from Independence. 

On August 23, White left the main party of the emigrants 
and pushed on ahead. We do not have the exact date of his 
arrival at Waiilatpu, but he did leave this brief account of 
his interview with Whitman : "The visit was very agreeable 
to both, as he had much to tell Dr. White of Oregon affairs, 
and the Dr. him of his two years' residence in the States." 14 
There can be no doubt about White's telling Whitman of the 
proposed treaty with Great Britain, in which it was expected 
that the Oregon boundary question would be settled. White 
was full of information regarding the Linn bill and the 
excitement along the frontier, all of which he probably 
passed on to Whitman. 

Like any other normal Oregon resident of that day, 
Marcus Whitman was tremendously interested in the politi- 
cal developments as they affected Oregon. He had reason to 



13 Bancroft, Oregon, Vol. 1, p. 177. 

14 Allen, Ten Years in Oregon, p. 166. 



272 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

be more interested than the average person because his home 
was on the Oregon Trail and it was destined to be a resting 
place for the weary. Neither White nor Whitman knew 
that the Webster- Ashburton Treaty had been signed and 
that Congress had adjourned without taking action on the 
Linn bill. When White left the frontier, the prospects were 
bright that something would be done, and he gave that 
optimistic report to Whitman. 

The main party of the emigrants reached Waiilatpu on 
the afternoon of September 14. Among the emigrants was 
Medorem Crawford, who wrote in his journal that he was 
never more pleased to see a house or white people in his life. 
He reported that Dr. and Mrs. Whitman treated them with 
the utmost kindness and sold provisions on "very reasonable 
terms." After spending the night at Waiilatpu, the emigrants 
continued their journey. On September 20, when Crawford 
was forty-five miles below Fort Walla Walla, he wrote in 
his journal : "Mr. Spalding & Lady over took us at noon. . . . 
Mr. Gray called at camp on his return from Vancouver." 
We do not know just why Mr. and Mrs. Spalding were there 
at that time. As a result of some information given by Gray, 
the Spaldings turned back and accompanied him to 
Waiilatpu. 

Another member of this emigration who also kept a 
diary was L. W. Hastings, and in it we read : 

the next place of note, at which we arrived, was a presbyterian 
mission, in charge of which, is a Dr. Whitman, who is a very kind 
and hospitable gentleman. He received us with the utmost kindness 
and attention, and insisted upon our remaining a few days with him, 
in order to obtain some relaxation of both body and mind. 15 

Hastings spent a Sunday there and attended a service 
where the doctor "delivered a discourse to the Indians, in 
their own language." Hastings also wrote: "The doctor is 
not only a very kind and hospitable gentleman, but he is no 
doubt, a very good man, and a devoted Christian. He appears 
to be rendering great service in christianizing and civilizing 
the natives." 

THE FATEFUL ORDER 

White carried out to the Oregon mission the fateful order 
of the Board, dated February 25, 1842. Greene wrote a 
general letter to the mission, in which he gave orders to 
abandon Waiilatpu and Lapwai and asked for the return of 



15 Hastings, A New Description of Oregon and California, p. 21. 



SPALDING IS DISMISSED 273 

the Spaldings, preferably by the overland route. Greene also 
wrote a personal letter to Whitman in which he said : "In 
everything that relates to Mr. Spalding, you will need to act 
with much discretion and kindness." Greene suggested that 
should the Spaldings prefer to remain in Oregon, they were 
to receive from five to six hundred dollars in property as 
the equivalent of their travel expenses home. 

Whitman's heart sank as he read the letter. Greene did 
not understand! The Board did not know the facts. Give 
up Waiilatpu and Lapwai and go to Tshimakain ! That was 
the poorest station in the whole field. Agricultural condi- 
tions there were most unfavorable. The Indians were unre- 
sponsive. Besides, the emigrants were beginning to come. 
Waiilatpu was strategically located. Above all other stations 
it should be kept. The Board could not afford to abandon it. 

Moreover, the conditions within the mission had vastly 
changed. Smith and Rogers were out, and Gray was then 
making plans to leave. A reconciliation had been effected 
with Spalding. The Board's order was out of date. It did not 
apply. Then, too, how foolish of the Board to order Spald- 
ing to take his family overland! That was impossible, be- 
cause there were no longer any caravans going eastward. 
The American Fur Company no longer existed. The tide 
was westward. How could they send a man with his wife 
and small children unescorted across the Plains? 

It is quite possible that Whitman communicated the 
facts of the order to White, who in turn told Gray, although 
in 1885, Gray declared that: "The order to abandon the 
Mission I confess is new to me." 16 Gray certainly knew 
something of importance to communicate to the Spaldings 
to make them turn back when they were with Medorem 
Crawford. It seems incredible that Gray could have been 
present those days at Waiilatpu when the special meeting 
of the mission was held to discuss the order, and not know 
of the particulars. In later years Gray was active in claim- 
ing that the sole cause of Whitman's ride East in 1842 was 
to save Oregon. The order to dismiss Spalding and to aban- 
don Waiilatpu did not fit in with that theory, so it seems that 
Gray forgot all about it. 

Whitman appears to have known that Spalding was 
absent from Lapwai. Whitman, therefore, sent Greene's 
letter for Spalding to Walker and Eells along with his own 



16 Quoted by Marshall, op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 138. 



274 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

request to have them come at once. The messenger reached 
Tshimakain on Tuesday, September 20. Mrs. Walker wrote 
that day in her diary : 

The express we are looking for arrived, bringing letters from 
D.W. Dr. Whitman and Mr. Greene, stating that the Board have 
concluded to recall Mr. Spalding, Smith and Gray and to discontinue 
the southern branch of this Mission. But as we have already written 
that the difficulties are settled and that we should wait a reply to the 
last. Mr. G. had already determined to leave and do not know as 
anyone has any objections. 

Walker made a similar notation in his journal for that 
day, but added: "The Doctor sent Mr. Spalding's letter to 
us, and we felt it was wrong in him not to forward it." 
Walker and Eells left at nine o'clock the next morning and 
reached Waiilatpu on Monday, September 26, having camped 
on the Touchet River over Sunday. They found both Spald- 
ing and Gray already there. As a result of Gray's fortuitous 
meeting with Spalding, the latter had learned of the mission 
meeting. Otherwise he might not have been present. Gray 
and Spalding had reached Waiilatpu on Thursday, Sep- 
tember 22. 

The special meeting of the mission was opened Monday 
evening, September 26. Greene's letters of February 28, 
1842, were read and along with it a copy of the letter sent 
to him on June 8. The men felt that the last paragraph of 
that letter, in which they requested the Board to postpone 
final decision until the Board was made acquainted with the 
new developments in the mission, automatically took care 
of the order dismissing Spalding and calling for the closing 
of the mission work at Lapwai and Waiilatpu. The men, 
therefore, turned their attention to Gray's case. 

Gray submitted a written statement regarding his plan 
to accept a position offered by the Methodist mission in the 
Willamette Valley. This statement closed with the following 
resolutions : 

That we approve Mr. Gray's engaging in the school as above in- 
timated. 

That we sanction his request to withdraw from his connection with 
the A.B.C.F.M. in view of the object above specified. 17 

Whitman seconded the motion. Spalding and Eells voted 
in the negative. Walker as Moderator cast his vote with the 
opposition, and the motion was lost. How strange! One 



17 Marshall, op. cit., Vol. 2, pp. 126 ff., gives the minutes of meeting. 
Original records in Coll. A. 



SPALDING IS DISMISSED 275 

would have thought that Spalding especially would have 
been only too glad to see Gray go. 

On Tuesday, September 27, Walker wrote in his journal : 
"We did not do much today. The Doctor preferred some 
charges against myself and Mr. Eells which we did not admit 
and held him to the talk I had with him last Summer." So 
far nothing had been said about Whitman's going East. On 
the 28th, Walker wrote: "Rose this morning with the de- 
termination to leave, and found Mr. Spalding had the same 
view, and was making preparations to leave as he felt that 
nothing could be done. At breakfast the Doctor let out what 
was his plan in view of the state of things. We persuaded 
them to get together and talk matters over." 

According to Spalding, Whitman was called to Fort Walla 
Walla to see a patient while the mission was in session. 18 
Since Walker reported that nothing much had been ac- 
complished on Tuesday, September 27, it seems reasonable to 
believe that Whitman was absent that day. Archibald Mc- 
i Kinlay later made reference to a visit of Dr. Whitman's 

i shortly before he went East but did not indicate the exact 

I date. 19 The long ride to the Fort and return would have 

j given Whitman plenty of time to think about the disastrous 

order. He became convinced that a personal intercession 
on behalf of the mission was necessary. This we know: 
Whitman proposed going to Boston on Wednesday morning 
to the surprise of the other members of the mission. 

If Whitman went to the Fort on Tuesday, it is possible 
that he discussed the situation existing within the mission 
with his friend McKinlay. We find the following statement 
in McKinlay's letter of January 19, 1885, to Myron Eells: 
"Whitman did say to me before his departure east that his 
objects in going were to frustrate unfavorable reports sent 
the Board by discontented members of the Mission he men- 
tioned Mr. C. Rogers, W. H. Gray, and I think Revd Mr. 
Smith as the parties who had sent the communications." 

According to Walker, Whitman and Spalding first talked 
about the idea, and then Whitman submitted the proposal 
to Walker and Eells. It appears that Spalding's consent 
was secured. In Walker's diary we read : "Then the question 
was submitted to us of the Doctor's going home, which we 



18 Senate Doc. No. 37, p. 20 ; also undated clipping from collection 
of Mrs. Ross of Portland gives letter of Perrin Whitman in which it 
is stated: "On the 29th of September, 1842, Dr. Whitman was called 
to Wallula." 

19 McKinlay to Myron Eells, Jan. 19, 1885, Coll. W. 



276 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

felt that it was one of too much importance to be decided 
in a moment, but finally came to the conclusion that if he 
could put things in such a state that it would be safe we 
could consent to his going, and with that left them and made 
a start home." 

Walker and Eells, with their customary reluctance to 
make any move without deliberate thought, were hesitant. 
They wanted time to think and pray about it. Dr. Whitman, 
on the other hand, felt the need for immediate action. If he 
could leave that fall it meant that he could return with the 
1843 emigration. If he waited to go East in the spring, it 
meant that he would not be able to return until the fall of 
1844. By leaving in the fall of 1842, he could return a year 
earlier. However, if he were to go that autumn, it meant 
that he would have to hurry, in order to cross the mountains 
before winter came. As soon as Whitman began to consider 
seriously the matter of going, it is easy to understand why 
he wanted to hurry. 

Walker and Eells brought up the question of the care of 
the Waiilatpu property, and made their vote dependent upon 
some satisfactory arrangements being made to care for it. 
Whitman then hastily wrote out the following resolution, 
which was signed by Walker, Eells, and Spalding : 

Resolved, That if arrangements can be made to continue the opera- 
tion of this station that Dr. Marcus Whitman be at liberty & advised 
to visit the United States as soon as practicable to confer with the 
Committee of the A.B.C.F.M. in regard to the interests of this mission. 

Waiilatpu September 28th 1842 

It appears that by this time Gray had succeeded in win- 
ning the consent of the other members of the mission for 
his dismissal, so, before Walker and Eells left, they also 
signed the following resolution, together with Whitman and 
Spalding : 

Resolved, That we approve of the withdrawal and removal of Mr. 
W. H. Gray and wife from this Mission, in order to become the Secular 
Agent of and General Superintendent of the Oregon Institute, to be 
located in the Willamette Valley, as set forth in a prospectus for the 
same. 

Waiilatpu, September 28, 1842 

Before Walker and Eells left, it was agreed that they 
would each write a letter to Greene which Whitman would 
carry should he go East. According to Walker's diary, these 
letters left Tshimakain on October 11 in plenty of time to 
reach Waiilatpu by the date agreed. 20 The final arrange- 



20 Eells, Marcus Whitman. Gushing Eells in 1883 claimed that they 
agreed to have the letters at Waiilatpu by October 5. However, Cush- 



SPALDING IS DISMISSED 277 

ments seem to have been made in haste, for both Walker 
and Eells were anxious to be on their way. After their re- 
turn home they wrote their letters. Eells wrote about the 
Gray case, while Walker touched on the reasons why Whit- 
man wanted to go East. The following are extracts from 
Walker's letter : 

If necessity demanded that one branch of the Mission should be 
abandoned, the north part could have been given up with far less 
disastrous consequences both as respects white settlers and the 
natives. . . . 

... as we were about starting for our place, a proposition was made 
by Dr. Whitman for him to return to the States this Winter, and 
confer with the Prudential Committee, and conduct a reinforcement 
out next summer, if it was thought best to continue the Mission. . . . 

We do not approve of the hasty manner in which this question was 
decided. Nothing it seemed to us but stern necessity induced us to 
decide in the manner we did. It seemed death to put the proposition in 
force, and worse than death to remain as we were. 

Furthermore we need a good reinforcement especially of laymen. 
. . . We want those who are willing to be such all their days, and not 
feel as soon as they get to the field that they can be more useful in some 
other department of labor. 

The last sentence quoted was evidently aimed at Gray. 
These letters did not reach Waiilatpu until after Whitman 
left. Greene did not receive them until May 3, 1843, when 
Whitman was already on his way back to Oregon. 21 

WHITMAN LEAVES FOR BOSTON 

Within twenty-four hours after the members of the mis- 
sion had departed to their respective stations, Marcus Whit- 
man had decided to start on Monday, October 3, nearly two 
weeks earlier than he had first planned. We can be sure that 
had he proposed leaving on the 3rd before Walker and Eells 
left, they would have objected. On Thursday, September 29, 
Narcissa said in a letter she wrote to Jane and Edward : 

I sit down to write you, but in great haste. My beloved husband 
has about concluded to start next Monday to go to the United States, 
the dear land of our birth ; but I remain behind. . . . He hopes to reach 
the borders in less than three months, if the Lord prospers his way. 
It is a dreadful journey, especially at this season of the year; and as 

ing Eells dated his letter to Greene October 3, and judging from 
Walker's diary, he worked on it several days. The probable date 
agreed upon was October 15. Walker to Greene, Feb. 28, 1843: "We 
sent our letters at the time agreed upon." 

21 See Appendix 3 for a more detailed discussion of the causes 
of Whitman's ride. 



278 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

much as I want to see you all, I cannot think of ever crossing the 
mountains again my present health will not admit of it. ... 

If you are still in Quincy you may not see him until his return, as 
his business requires great haste. He wishes to reach Boston as early 
as possible so as to make arrangements to return next summer, if 
prospered. The interest of the missionary cause in this country calls 
him home. 

Jane and Edward were then associated with one of 
Narcissa's former Prattsburg teachers, the Rev. William 
Beardsley, in the Mission Institute at Quincy, Illinois. Jane 
may have been a teacher in the Institute, while Edward seems 
to have been studying for the ministry. Narcissa begged 
her sister to return with Marcus the next spring. In a post- 
script to this letter we can read : "I have forgotten to speak 
of husband's company in travel. He is Mr. A. L. Lovejoy, a 
lawyer who came up from the States this summer, and now 
is willing and anxious to return for the good he may do 
in returning." 

Asa Lawrence Lovejoy 22 (1808-1882) had been a mem- 
ber of the 1842 emigration. Writing on February 14, 1876, 
Lovejoy related how he happened to return with Whitman 
as follows : 

My party camped some two miles below Dr. Whitman's place. The 
day after our arrival Dr. Whitman called at our camp and asked me to 
accompany him to his house, as he wished me to draw up a memorial 
to Congress to prohibit the sale of ardent spirits in this country . . . 
after numerous conversations with the Doctor touching the future 
prosperity of Oregon, he asked me one day in a very anxious manner, 
if I thought it would be possible for him to cross the mountains at that 
time of the year. I told him I thought he could. He next asked, "Will 
you accompany me?" After a little reflection, I told him I would. 23 

It is very unlikely that Whitman would have proposed the 
Eastern trip without the assurance of a companion. Lovejoy 
was at the Fort at the time of the mission meeting. If the 
theory be true that Whitman went to the Fort on Tuesday, 
September 27, it is possible that he won Lovejoy 's consent 
then. Lovejoy might have ridden to Waiilatpu the next day 
to find out what Whitman intended to do. Learning of his 
intention to go, Lovejoy might have insisted upon an earlier 
departure than that suggested by Walker and Eells. This 
is but a theory, yet it gives a plausible explanation as to why 



22 Asa is often confused with his son Amos, who was born in 1856. 
Asa was a nephew of the Hon. Abbott Lawrence, once minister to 
England. 

23 Nixon, How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon, p. 306 



SPALDING IS DISMISSED 279 

Whitman should have set forward the date of his departure 
by almost two weeks. 

Narcissa took advantage of the occasion to send letters 
to loved ones. She added a postscript to the letter she had 
written to the Rev. and Mrs. Asa S. Allen, of Cuba, New 
York, on August 23. She wrote to her parents on the 30th, 
saying : "You will be surprised if this letter reaches you to 
learn that the bearer is my dear husband, and that you will, 
after a few days, have the pleasure of seeing him. May you 
have a joyful meeting." She briefly reviewed the circum- 
stances leading up to his decision to go, and added : "He goes 
with the advice and entire confidence of his brethren in the 
mission, and who value him not only as an associate, but as 
their physician, and feel, as much as I do, that they know not 
how to spare him ; but the interest of the cause demands the 
sacrifice on our part." The letter to the Aliens, the one to 
Jane and Edward, and the one to her parents are the only 
letters of hers that we now have which Dr. Whitman carried. 

Gray wrote to Greene on October 3, giving his account 
of his withdrawal from the mission. Whitman carried that 
letter and the resolution which Walker, Eells, and Spalding 
had signed on the 28th, authorizing his departure. So far as 
we know these were the only letters for Greene or the 
American Board that he carried. 

Early on Monday morning, October 3, 1842, Whitman 
kissed his wife goodbye, and mounted his horse. The Grays 
were still at Waiilatpu. Gray was instructed to find some- 
body in the Willamette Valley who would come up and take 
care of the station during Whitman's absence. Whitman 
wanted Rogers and his wife. Feeling confident that suitable 
arrangements would be made, Whitman rode with Lovejoy 
down the trail that led to the Blue Mountains. They had at 
least one baggage animal with them, and perhaps more. The 
dog called Trapper, once the playmate of Alice Clarissa, 
went along. 24 An Indian by the name of Aps accompanied 
them for a short distance, returning the next day with a 
letter from Marcus. It is possible that a few other Indians 
went with them for a part of the journey through the Blue 
Mountains. 

With a heavy but brave heart, Narcissa watched the 
party go down the trail until it was lost to view. Her 



24 Story given by Mrs. Edmund Bowden, of Seattle, a personal 
friend of the Rev. Gushing Eells. 



280 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

anxious thoughts formed themselves into a prayer for God's 
protection for her husband. As she thought of the long and 
lonely months before her, she felt timid and afraid. She 
prayed not only for her husband. She prayed that God would 
give her strength to carry on. 



CHAPTER FOURTEEN 

"SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD" 
1842-1843 

DURING the year that Dr. Whitman was away, several 
important events occurred which affected the work of 
the American Board's mission in Oregon. Narcissa be- 
moaned the fact that the first official contact of the Cayuses 
with the United States Government through Indian Agent 
White had to come when her husband was absent. She wrote 
saying that the Indians were like "sheep without a shep- 
herd" and knew not whom they could trust. 

Mrs. Whitman's letters during this period give us the 
best review of her experiences. On Tuesday, October 4, Aps, 
one of the Indians who had started out with Whitman and 
Love joy, returned with a letter from the doctor for his wife. 
Narcissa sat down at once and wrote an answer, although 
we do not know if her husband ever saw it. She told of the 
departure of the Grays that morning. 1 The next day she 
added another section to the letter and mentioned the diffi- 
culty the Grays experienced in getting to Fort Walla Walla. 
"The cart broke," she stated. This is the first mention of 
the presence of a wheeled vehicle at the Waiilatpu station. 
It may be that Whitman got one of the wagons which was 
brought over the Blue Mountains by the Meek party in 1840. 

We are interested in the following items: "I am sorry 
we forgot your pencil, comb and journal. Aps brought back 
Mr. Lovejoy's said you left it in camp." 2 On the 5th she 
wrote: "In arranging the cupboard to-day, I found that 
you had not taken the compass as you designed to." 3 Dr. 
Whitman left in such haste that a number of little things 
were overlooked. After his departure Narcissa remembered 
her need for spectacles. "I intended to have spoken to you 



1 Gray, Eells, Ross, The Whitman Controversy, p. 36, states that 
Gray claimed he left Waiilatpu on October 15 and that Dr. Whitman's 
departure caused him to delay going to the Willamette Valley. Gray 
was mistaken in his recollection of the date. 

2 Lovejoy MS., Bancroft Coll., p. 18 : "I had notes all along but I 
lost them." 

3 Whitman College museum claims to have Dr. Whitman's compass, 
perhaps the one he left behind on this trip. 



282 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

about purchasing one or two pair of spectacles," she wrote. 
"Perhaps you will think of it." 

After the departure of the Grays on the 4th, Mrs. Whit- 
man was the only white person at the mission station. On 
the night of October 6, she was awakened at midnight by 
someone trying to enter her room. Hearing the latch raised, 
she jumped from her bed, slammed the door shut, and fas- 
tened the latch again. The intruder succeeded in raising it 
and was able to push the door partly open, Mrs. Whitman's 
strength not being equal to his. All the time she was calling 
for John, who appears to have been a faithful Indian whom 
she trusted. Finally the ruffian became alarmed and ran 
through the dining room out of doors. Narcissa hastened 
to lock the outside door. She lit a candle and returned to 
her bed trembling and cold. But she could not rest. She 
rose again and called John and had him sleep in the kitchen. 
She described this experience to her husband in the entry 
in her journal letter for October 7. [Letter 118.] 

The next day Mungo, who happened to arrive from 
Tshimakain, carried the news of the intrusion to McKinlay. 
The Grays were still at the Fort and shared in McKinlay's 
anxiety for her safety. Mungo was sent back with a mes- 
sage strongly urging her to leave at once for the Fort. Mrs. 
Whitman consulted with some of the chiefs regarding the 
advisability of leaving. Among those with whom she dis- 
cussed the situation was Feathercap. [Letter 118.] Ac- 
cording to one writer, Feathercap, also called Tamsucky, 
was the one who attempted the assault. 4 We marvel at the 
amazing courage of Narcissa, who on previous occasions 
had written of her timidity about staying at the mission 
station without her husband, even when other white people 
were on the grounds. But now she was all alone ! And she 
discussed the attempted assault with the culprit himself! 

On Tuesday, October 11, Mr. McKinlay took a wagon and 
drove out to Waiilatpu to get Mrs. Whitman. She was not 
feeling well and did not want to attempt the journey, but 
McKinlay would not take a refusal. He arranged a bed in 
the wagon, on which Mrs. Whitman reclined while they 
made the trip to the Fort. She took with her the three half- 



4 Cannon, Waiilatpu, p. 67 : "Later investigation developed evi- 
dence that the Indian who attempted the assault upon Mrs. Whitman 
was a second chief of Tilaukait's village, named Tamsuky." Also, p. 
103, Cannon states that Mrs. Whitman identified Feathercap with 
Tamsucky. Gray, Oregon, p. 189, claims that Feathercap and Tilou- 
kaikt were the same. 



"SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD" 283 

breed children. The Indians regretted her departure, but 
Narcissa in a letter to her husband confessed that the "anxi- 
ety was wearing upon me too much." 

Another letter from Marcus reached Narcissa on Friday, 
October 14. Although she was relieved of the worry of 
being alone at the mission station, still she suffered at the 
Fort from the want of the conveniences of her home, primi- 
tive as it was as judged by modern standards. Her room at 
the Fort was cold, and some of the bedding was damp. 
After she had been there about a week, Mr. McKinlay put up 
a stove for her, which made her much more comfortable. 
Her poor health increased her discomfort. 

In her imagination she followed her husband's course 
across the country. She pictured him reaching Fort Boise, 
where he would see Mr. Payette, the Hudson's Bay trader 
in charge. Then would come the long trip across the desert 
to Fort Hall. Stage by stage she retraced the journey they 
had made in 1836, and then in her daydreams she painted 
the picture of his arrival at his home. "How will you feel, 
dear husband," she asked, "when you seat yourself in Sister 
Julia's house, or with our mothers, and not see the windows 
filled with Indians, and the doors also ; will you not feel lost?" 

On the 22nd of October she began another letter from 
Fort Walla Walla to her husband which she expected to send 
with the express across Canada. In this letter she made the 
following reference to the motive which took him from her 
side : "Stay as long as it is necessary to accomplish all your 
heart's desire respecting the interest of this country, so dear 
to us both our home." This letter also contains the fol- 
lowing intimate passage: 

Read this letter, my husband, and then give it to my mother 
perhaps she would like once more to peep into one of the sacred 
chambers of her daughter's heart it may comfort her, seeing she 
can not see her face again in the flesh. 

This letter was sent to the American Board in Boston, where 
it still remains. It arrived after Whitman had left, and we 
have no reason to believe that Marcus or any of her relatives 
ever saw it. 

Spalding went to Waiilatpu during the latter part of 
October to look after a number of things but was suddenly 
called back to Lapwai by the serious illness of his wife. 5 
Gray was delayed in leaving the Fort, and after he reached 

5 Drury, Spalding, p. 291. Spalding and an Indian companion rode 
the 120 miles from Waiilatpu to Lapwai in nineteen hours. 



284 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

the Willamette Valley he found difficulty in engaging some- 
one to go to Waiilatpu. Rogers was otherwise employed. 
Mr. Littlejohn, thoroughly discouraged, was planning to 
return to the States the next spring with his family. Finally 
Gray was able to hire William Geiger. 

Mrs. Whitman was not very comfortable at the Fort, and 
was happy, therefore, when she received an invitation 
from the mission families at the Methodist station at The 
Dalles, or Waskopum, to spend the winter with them. She 
secured passage in one of the Hudson's Bay express boats 
which left Fort Walla Walla on October 27 and arrived at 
Waskopum on the 29th, where she was hospitably received 
by the Rev. and Mrs. H. K. W. Perkins, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel 
Lee, and Mr. and Mrs. Henry B. Brewer. [Letter 122.] The 
Dalles station was the first branch to be established by the 
Methodists. The buildings were located on the south bank 
of the Columbia, about a mile from the river. 

Shortly after her departure from the Fort, the gristmill 
at Waiilatpu was burned. McKinlay wrote to Mrs. Whit- 
man, telling of the occurrence and expressing his belief that 
the mill was deliberately destroyed. Commenting on this 
disaster in a letter to her parents, Mrs. Whitman said : 
"Probably there was more than two hundred bushels of 
wheat and corn burnt and some flour. The mill bolt and 
threshing mill, even to a part of the wheel, was burnt. My 
poor husband will feel this sadly." [Letter 121.] 

On November 24, Mr. and Mrs. Littlejohn and Mr. Geiger 
reached Waskopum en route to Waiilatpu. While Littlejohn 
was unwilling to accept responsibility for the mission sta- 
tion, it appears that he was ready to spend some time there 
before starting for the States. The Littlejohns and Geiger 
were with the White party. Mrs. Littlejohn and her infant 
son remained at Waskopum while the others continued their 
journey. 

DR. WHITE'S CONFERENCE 

When the news of the attempted assault on Mrs. Whit- 
man and the destruction of the mill reached Dr. White, he 
felt it his duty to go at once and investigate. Securing the 
services of Tom McKay, Cornelius Rogers, Baptiste Dorion, 
and six armed men to form a proper escort, White set out 
for the Upper Columbia country on November 15. The 
weather was bitterly cold, and they were delayed by strong 
head winds. Spalding in a letter written to A. T. Smith on 



"SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD" 285 

December 15, 1842, said that the week beginning November 
14 was the coldest he had ever experienced in the country. 6 
For three days the mercury was from six to fifteen below 
zero. Of course it was not that cold in the Willamette Valley, 
and yet the journey up the Columbia was a trying experience 
for members of the party. McKay called it a "voyage of 
misery." 7 

Dr. White found Mrs. Whitman in poor health and very 
much depressed. Horses were secured at The Dalles, and 
the party completed their journey on horseback, reaching 
Fort Walla Walla on the 30th. The next day they went out 
to Waiilatpu, where White was shocked "at beholding the 
sad work of savage destruction upon this hitherto neat and 
commodious little establishment." White tried to have a 
conference then with the Indians but only a few were to be 
seen. He left word that he wished to meet with them upon 
his return from Lapwai. 

White and his party reached Lapwai on December 3, 
where Spalding gave them a royal welcome. The Spaldings 
reported but one unpleasant experience with their Indians 
which had taken place nearly a year previous. The Nez 
Perces were therefore in a better frame of mind than were 
the Cayuses and willingly met in conference with Dr. White. 
As a result Dr. White succeeded in having the Nez Perces 
accept eleven laws, which were subsequently printed by 
Spalding on the mission press at Lapwai. This was the first 
lawbook to be printed in Old Oregon, and it marked the be- 
ginning 'of the effort of the United States Government to 
extend its jurisdiction over the natives of Oregon Territory. 8 
The Littlejohns remained at Lapwai until the fall of 1843. 

The White party started back to Waiilatpu on December 
20, where they met some, but not all, of the Cayuse chiefs. 
White wrote: "Learning what the Nez Perces had done, 
gave them great concern and anxiety." 9 One of the chiefs 
confessed to White that the mill had been burnt de- 
liberately. In White's account of these days we find the fol- 
lowing item : "They had not proceeded far before Feather- 
cap, so far as we know, for the first time in life, commenced 
weeping, and wished to see me ; said his heart was sick, and 
he could not live long as he now felt." 10 



6 Original in Spokane Public Library. 

7 Allen, Ten Years in Oregon, p. 179. 
8 Drury, Spalding, p. 296. 

9 Allen, op. cit., p. 179. 

10 Ibid., p. 191. 



286 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

However, the Cayuse Indians were suspicious of the 
laws and would then not accept them. White agreed to re- 
turn in the spring and resume the deliberations, when he 
hoped more of the chiefs would be present. Being favored 
with good traveling conditions on their return trip, White 
and his party reached Waskopum on December 25. 

THE WINTER OF 1842-43 

Mrs. Whitman remained at Waskopum during the win- 
ter of 1842-43. Although she greatly missed the presence 
of her husband, she thoroughly enjoyed her lengthy visit 
with the Methodist families at The Dalles. Writing to Mrs. 
Walker on December 16, 1842, she declared : "I am treated 
with the utmost kindness & attention & could not be so 
happyly & comfortably situated for the winter as here both 
for my health & spirits perhaps in the country." 

During the winter she suffered much from ill-health, 
which would bring times of depression. On March 6, she 
wrote: "My eyes are almost gone my poor health affects 
them materially and writing is very injurious to me. I can 
neither read, write or sew without spectacles, the most of 
the time, and sometimes with them I suffer considerable 
pain." [Letter 121.] Mrs. Whitman had with her Helen 
Mar Meek and Mary Ann Bridger. David Malin was left 
at the Fort in the care of Mrs. McKinlay. 

On February 1, 1843, Cornelius Rogers, 11 his wife, and 
several others were drowned when their boat was swept 
over Willamette Falls. The Rev. George Abernathy, a mem- 
ber of the Methodist mission, who later served as the first 
Governor of Oregon (1845-1849), sent word of the accident 
to Mrs. Whitman on February 4. She forwarded the letter 
to her husband with a short note from herself on March 4. 
It is doubtful that Dr. Whitman ever saw these letters, 
which now rest in the archives of the American Board. 
Greene received the letters on August 9, 1843. 

On March 14, her thirty-fifth birthday, Narcissa wrote 
to Augustus Whitman and his wife, Julia. "Need I ask you 
how do you enjoy the society of your dear brother," she 
asked, thinking that her husband had long since reached 
Rushville. In fact Dr. Whitman did not reach his home 
until about a month later. Narcissa tells how much she 



11 An account of the tragedy is found in the Cleveland Weekly 
Plain Dealer, Aug. 23, 1843, being reprinted from the Cincinnati Sun. 
Rogers was a native of Cincinnati. 



"SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD" 287 

missed Marcus in these words: "His society was my life, 
and while I had him I never knew that I was lonely. Now 
I am restless and uneasy, numbering the past, anxiously 
looking forward, struggling between hope and fear." [Let- 
ter 124.] Yet she was able to write in the same letter : "Not- 
Withstanding all our adversities I have no occasion to feel 
the least regret that husband has gone and left me here; 
the causes demanded it increasingly." 

DR. WHITE RETURNS TO WAIILATPU 

On March 29, 1843, Narcissa wrote a long letter to her 
husband, in which she reviewed the excitement which ex- 
isted among the Cayuses. The letter was sent to the Ameri- 
can Board with the request that should Dr. Whitman be 
gone the letter should be forwarded to Augustus Whitman. 
Since the letter is still in the files of the American Board it 
is to be doubted that it was ever forwarded. 

The fact that the Nez Perces had adopted the laws and 
had appointed a head chief while the Cayuses had not, was 
the focal point of trouble. Narcissa wrote: 

The principal cause of the excitement is; the Kayuses do not wish 
to be forced to adopt the laws recommended by the Agent. They say 
the laws in themselves are good, they do not object to them but do 
not wish to be compelled to adopt them (enforce them). This arises 
from what was said at the meeting to this effect; We advise you to 
adopt these laws, but if you do not we will put you in a way to do it. 

They took exceptions to such language as this. Call it threatening 
them and are jealous and complain of Ellis the High Chief and 
the Nez Perces for so soon and so readily entering into the new meas- 
ures of the Americans. This together with time for talk and the 
summing up of various remarks carelessly made by unwise Americans 
and taken to be facts has caused a very great commotion. 

Rumors were rife among the Cayuses to the effect that 
American troops were expected. Geiger wrote to Mrs. Whit- 
man and said that some of the Indians believed that Dr. 
Whitman had gone to the States to get men to fight them. 
"Poor creatures," wrote Narcissa, "they know not what 
they do nor whither they are hastening." The excitement 
was so great that Geiger felt that between fifteen hundred 
and two thousand Indians would assemble at the expected 
meeting with White. 

H. K. W. Perkins wrote to White telling him of the ex- 
citement which existed. He said that the Indians were 
wrought up over the great numbers of white people who 
were entering their country each year and felt that these 



288 MAECUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

white people would seize the land. Perkins claimed that a 
Nez Perce chief had been sent to visit the Indians in the 
buffalo country east of Fort Hall "for the purpose of excit- 
ing them to cut off the party that it is expected Dr. Whit- 
man will bring back with him to settle the Nez Perce coun- 
try." 12 Here we see the beginning of the suspicion on the 
part of the Indians that Dr. Whitman was more the white 
man's friend than theirs. 

While Baptiste Dorion was at Waiilatpu with the White 
party in the fall of 1842, he spread several reports which 
caused the Cayuses to take alarm. Of him Narcissa wrote : 
"They have heard many unwise remarks which have been 
made by designing persons, especially a half-breed that 
came up with the agent last fall. Such as troops are coming 
into the river this spring and are coming up with Dr. White 
to fight them." [Letter 126.] 

The situation became so threatening that the Methodist 
missionaries at The Dalles joined in requesting White to 
hasten and settle the trouble. Narcissa longed for her hus- 
band to be present for the critical hour and wrote : 

I have some fears as to the consequences. But perhaps you will 
say they are womanish fears, I grant it. Yet I cannot help feeling 
that you should be present at the transaction of so important business 
to the people among whom we are called to spend our lives. I am 
requested by the Agent to be there. 

Mrs. Whitman accurately summed up the characteristics of 
the Cayuses when she wrote : "There are redeeming quali- 
ties in the character of the Kaiuses notwithstanding they 
are insolent, proud, domineering, arrogant and ferocious." 
[Letter 125.] 

Mrs. Whitman left The Dalles on Monday, April 3, with 
her two girls, for Fort Walla Walla. They reached their 
destination on Saturday noon. They remained at the Fort 
until the 24th, when they left for Waiilatpu, taking David 
Malin with them. Mrs. Whitman found everything peaceful 
at the mission station. Geiger had done very well with the 
farm. The Indians were busy with their spring farm work. 
The one marring feature of the whole situation was the 
blackened ruins of the mill. 

The Indians had inquired of Dr. McLoughlin as to his 
attitude in regard to the proposed war against them and 
learned that the Hudson's Bay Company would have no 
part in such a war, nor did he believe that the Americans 



12 Hines, History of the Oregon Mission, pp. 143-4. 



"SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD" 289 

had any like intentions. This quieted the Indians. Narcissa 
inquired about the rumor that her husband had gone East 
to get soldiers to fight them, and wrote to Marcus : "The 
report of your going home and returning with men to fight 
has no weight in the minds of the people generally." 

On May 9, Dr. White appeared rather unexpectedly at 
Waiilatpu. Mrs. Whitman had heard that he was not com- 
ing. Dr. McLoughlin had strongly advised against it, for 
he felt it most unwise to force the Cayuses to accept the 
laws. Narcissa wrote that Dr. White was "quite ignorant 
of the Indian character and especially of the character of 
the Kaiuses." [Letter 126.] She too felt that relations with 
them would be much better if he stayed away. White had 
Mr. Perkins and the Rev. Gustavus Hines with him to serve 
as interpreters. 

Mr. Hines has given us an account of his experiences on 
that trip. He states that he found about sixty Cayuses cul- 
tivating small farms in the vicinity of the mission station. 
Among the Indians present were Peupeumoxmox, also called 
Yellow Serpent, and his son, who had been educated in the 
Methodist mission school in the Willamette and had re- 
ceived the name of Elijah Hedding, after the Methodist 
bishop of that name. 

After remaining a few days at Waiilatpu, White and his 
companions set out for Lapwai. On May 18, while White 
was still away, Mrs. Whitman wrote to her husband, giving 
the details of what was taking place. Whitman received 
this letter on July 20 of that summer, when he was one 
hundred miles west of Laramies Fork on his way back. 
After reading it, Whitman sent it on to Greene, and it, too, 
now rests in the archives of the American Board. 

Narcissa told of the efforts Dr. White was making to 
quiet the fears of the Indians. Tiloukaikt remarked to White 
that he felt it was most unfortunate that Dr. Whitman was 
not present at the discussions. "They have had no one to 
talk with," wrote Narcissa, "in whom they feel so much 
confidence as in their long tried friend Doct. Whitman. I 
have every reason to believe that all hearts are filled with 
anxiety to see you back again and none perhaps more so 
than the one that pulled your ears." It was this letter that 
said that the Indians "seem to be and feel 'like sheep with- 
out a shepherd.' " 

In the hope and expectation that there would be a large 
emigration in the fall of 1843, Spalding and Geiger made 



290 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

plans to send a pack train with flour to Fort Boise and to 
Fort Hall. Spalding wrote to Geiger about this on May 10, 13 
and Mrs. Whitman in her letter of May 18 to her husband 
wrote: "The Snake party have started and are camped a 

little below here The mission sent four horse loads of 

flour to Fort Boise and Fort Hall for you and your company." 
Since the average load for a pack horse was 250 pounds, this 
means that a thousand pounds of flour were sent to meet 
the emigrant train of 1843. Narcissa sent her letter of 
May 18 with this train. 

On Friday, May 19, Dr. White returned to Waiilatpu, 
accompanied by four or five hundred Nez Perces. The Cay- 
uses and Walla Wallas were present "in mass," as Dr. White 
described it. After a five- or six-day conference, the Cayuses 
and Walla Wallas agreed to accept the laws. Five Crows, 
sometimes called Hezekiah, was made head chief of the 
Cayuses. Dr. White then ordered two fat oxen slain and 
the meat given to the Indians, together with wheat, salt, 
and other food items. White went contrary to all Indian tra- 
ditions by inviting the women to the feast, much to their 
joy. 14 

Hines has given some intimate glimpses into the events 
of that conference. Once Yellow Serpent asked whether the 
laws were from God or not. Dr. White replied that laws in 
all civilized countries had God's approval. This satisfied the 
Indian chief, who said : "He was very glad to learn that it 
was so, because many of his people and been angry with him 
when he had whipped them for crime, and had told him that 
God would send him to hell for it, and he was glad to know 
that it was pleasing to God." 15 

Having accomplished his objectives, Dr. White started 
back to the Fort on Saturday, May 27, Mrs. Whitman and 
the children going along. Although Mrs. Whitman was in 
better health that spring than she had been during the win- 
ter, Dr. White as a physician could see that she was not 
well and advised her to go to Fort Vancouver and place 
herself under the care of Dr. Barclay of that place. This 
she decided to do. Taking Helen Mar Meek with her, she 
left Fort Walla Walla on June 1 for Vancouver. Mary Ann 
Bridger and David Malin were left with Mrs. Littlejohn and 



Original, Coll. 0. 
Allen, op. cit., p. 215. 
Hines, op. cit., p. 178. 



"SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD" 291 

Mrs. Eells. [Letter 141.] The Hudson's Bay brigade reached 
Fort Vancouver Sunday evening, June 4. Of that trip Nar- 
cissa wrote : 

I had a very fatiguing journey down; came near drowning in the 
portage once. One of the boats upset, but no lives lost. The boat I 
was in just escaped capsizing. We arrived here just before sunset, 
Sabbath; displeased with myself and every one around me because of 
the profanation of the holy day of the Lord. [Letter 137.] 

After an examination of her condition, Dr. Barclay ad- 
vised her to remain under his care for at least a month. We 
can rest assured that Dr. McLoughlin also urged her to 
stay. It was the first time that Mrs. Whitman had been to 
the Fort since her arrival in the fall of 1836. Writing to 
Mrs. Walker on June 27, Narcissa referred to "the tumor in 
my side." 16 She remained at the Fort until about the middle 
of July, when she left to visit some of the Methodist mis- 
sionaries in the Willamette Valley. [Letter 139.] 

THE SUMMER OP 1843 

Narcissa loved to be with people, and the summer of 
1843, when she met so many under congenial circumstances, 
was one of the happiest experiences of her life in Old Ore- 
gon. After spending about two months at Fort Vancouver, 
she went to be a guest in the home of Mr. and Mrs. George 
Abernathy at Willamette Falls. She also spent some days 
with the Rev. and Mrs. Alvin F. Waller. She was delighted 
to learn that when Mr. Waller rode a circuit out of Friend- 
ship, Allegany County, New York, he had known her father. 
The historic dispute of Dr. McLoughlin with the Methodist 
mission over land to which 'Waller also laid claim, was in its 
early stages at this time. Narcissa became very friendly 
with the Wallers and undoubtedly gave them her sympathy. 
This may account for the lack of cordiality which thereafter 
existed between the Whitmans and Dr. McLoughlin. While 
there is no evidence that anything happened to mar their 
friendship, yet we do not find Mrs. Whitman making the 
kindly references to Dr. McLoughlin which she did when 
they first met. The fact that Dr. McLoughlin had joined 
the Roman Catholic Church on November 18, 1842, also af- 
fected their relationships. 

About the time Mrs. Whitman arrived at Willamette Falls, 



16 Narcissa to her father, April 12, 1844, speaks of Dr. Barclay 
and states: "He discovered that I had an enlargement of the right 
ovary and gave me iodine to remove it." 



292 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

the Methodists were having a camp meeting at Tualatin 
Plains, about thirty-five miles distant, with Jason Lee, Gus- 
tavus Hines, and H. K. W. Perkins in charge. On Sunday, 
July 16, sixty people were present, including the majority 
of the residents of the valley, and in all probability Mrs. 
Whitman was there. Jason Lee preached, and to such effect 
that sixteen out of the nineteen nonprofessors of religion 
were converted. Among them was the old mountain man, 
Joseph Meek. The conversion was real, and Meek ex- 
claimed: "Tell everybody you see that Joseph Meek, that 
old Rocky Mountain sinner, has turned to the Lord." 17 

In a letter written to her father on April 12, 1844, Nar- 
cissa made no mention of the July camp meeting but did 
refer to another meeting held in August, which she de- 
scribed as a "precious season" for her soul. She wrote : "It 
continued four days and resulted in the conversion of almost 
all the impenitent on the ground." She declared that those 
weeks spent with her Christian friends in the Willamette 
Valley were "among the happiest in my life." 

Narcissa left the Abernathys on Monday, August 7, to 
go to Fort George (Astoria) to say goodbye to the Rev. and 
Mrs. Daniel Lee and some other missionaries who were about 
to sail for the States. While at the Fort, Narcissa was en- 
tertained in the home of James Birnie, resident trader in 
charge of that Hudson's Bay post. On Sunday, August 13, 
both Jason Lee and Daniel Lee preached, the last of many 
services jointly conducted by uncle and nephew in Old Ore- 
gon. 18 Narcissa spent a few days on board the ship Diamond 
with Mrs. Lee before it sailed. It was her first view of the 
Pacific Ocean. The boat lifted anchor on Tuesday, August 
15, and Narcissa returned with the Rev. Jason Lee and 
the Rev. David Leslie to Willamette Falls. During the 
weeks immediately following she visited in the home of Mr. 
and Mrs. W. H. Gray. [Letter 149.] During the middle of 
September, she returned to Willamette Falls, and while she 
was there the cheering news came that her husband was on 
his way to Oregon with a large party of emigrants, who 
had with them 140 wagons. 

Narcissa made immediate preparations to return to 
Waiilatpu. She was able to leave during the last week of 
September in company with Jason Lee, who was bound for 
The Dalles. The trip up the river was most disagreeable, 



17 O.H.Q., Vol. 23, p. 326. 

18 Brosnan, Jason Lee, p. 205. 



"SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD" 293 

for it rained while they were making the portage at the 
Cascades, and Mrs. Whitman caught a severe cold. They 
reached Waskopum on Saturday evening, October 7. Her 
husband was not there. 

After his return from the East, Whitman had been called 
to Lapwai to minister to the Spaldings who were critically 
ill with scarlet fever. When he reached Waiilatpu, he re- 
ceived an urgent appeal from Tshimakain to go there to 
attend Mrs. Eells, who was expecting another child. Even 
though Whitman was eager to meet his wife again, he 
mounted his horse and made the long trip of 140 miles to 
the north. Mrs. Eells gave birth to a son, whom they named 
Myron, on October 7. Eager to see Narcissa, Marcus started 
back the day the child was born. When Narcissa arrived 
with Jason Lee at The Dalles, Marcus was riding the trail 
that led back to Waiilatpu. Upon arriving at the mission 
station, he was further delayed by some of the emigrants 
who needed supplies. 

As soon as possible Whitman hastened on to The Dalles, 
arriving there on or about the 26th of October. In a letter 
to her father, written the next spring, Narcissa said: "It 
was a joyful and happy meeting and caused our hearts to 
overflow with love and gratitude to the Author of all our 
mercies, for permitting us to see each other's faces again 
in the flesh." [Letter 149.] Narcissa also noted the meet- 
ing of Marcus Whitman and Jason Lee, two of the pioneer 
missionaries of Old Oregon. She wrote: "It was pleasing 
to see the pioneers of the two Missions meet and hold counsel 
together." 

While in New York City, Whitman had seen Edward R. 
Ames, secretary of the Methodist Board, who told him that 
Lee had been dismissed. Whitman seems to have been the 
first to carry this distressing news to Lee, 19 who naturally 
resented that means of conveying such information. Soon 
afterwards he started back to the States, so this was the last 
time that Whitman and Lee met. 

By the first of November, the Whitmans were at Walla 
Walla on their way back to Waiilatpu. Days and weeks 
passed before each had the opportunity to learn of the events 
which had come within the experience of the other during 
the year's separation. It is easy to imagine Narcissa eagerly 
inquiring: "Now tell me, dear husband, all that has hap- 
pened to you." 



19 Brosnan, op. tit., p. 206. 



CHAPTER FIFTEEN 

WHITMAN RIDES 
1842-1843 

WHITMAN and Lovejoy left Waiilatpu on Monday, Oc- 
tober 3, 1842, for the States. In later years Lovejoy 
wrote three accounts describing the trip, two of which have 
been published. The first was a letter dated November 6, 
1869, directed to W. H. Gray, which appeared in Gray's 
Oregon. 1 The second, also a letter, was dated February 14, 
1876, and was sent to Dr. G. H". Atkinson, who was sent by 
the American Home Missionary Society to Oregon in 1848. 2 
The third account was written by Lovejoy in 1878 for the 
historian H. H. Bancroft. 3 The earliest of these three de- 
scriptions was written twenty-seven years after the events 
described took place. We must, therefore, make due allow- 
ance for the fallibility of human memory in our acceptance 
of these accounts. 

Lovejoy stated that Whitman would not travel on Sun- 
day, except for one instance during the latter part of the 
journey. In both of his letters, Lovejoy declared that they 
reached Fort Hall in eleven days. Supposing that Lovejoy 
meant eleven days of travel, this means that they reached 
Fort Hall by Saturday, October 15. However, an earlier 
record of the trip is to be found in a letter Spalding wrote 
to A. T. Smith on January 7, 1843, in which we read : "Doct 
Whitman and Lovejoy arrived at Fort Hall, 18 of Oct., left 
20 with guide to Paiute, expecting to go by way of the Arkan- 
sas or Sante Fe." 4 This means that they reached the Fort 
on a Tuesday, having spent two Sundays en route. This 
would have given them fourteen days of travel to cover a 
distance of about 528 miles, or an average of about 37 
miles a day. It had taken the Whitman-Spalding party 
a month to cover that same distance going westward in 1836. 



1 Pp. 324 ff. 

2 Pioneer and Historical Society of Oregon, 1876, pp. 13 ff. Ke- 
printed in Nixon, How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon, pp. 305 ff. 

3 Original, Bancroft Library, Berkeley, Calif. Photostat in Coll. O. 

4 Original, Spokane Library. It is not clear what Spalding meant 
by the words "to Paiute," as there was no place by that name. Perhaps 
the reference is through the "Paiute" Indian country. 



WHITMAN BIDES 295 

At Fort Hall they met Richard Grant, Hudson's Bay 
trader in charge of that post, who advised them not to follow 
the usual route eastward through South Pass. In Lovejoy's 
account to Bancroft we read : 

He said it was just perfect folly. The Indians had been tip there 
and murdered the Snake Indians that very season. He told us not 
to do it. ... So then Whitman changed his course and goes by way of 

Uintah, away out to Taos and around to Sante Fe We were all 

winter. We made terrible work of it. When we got to Fort Hall we 
took men from the Fort, a half-breed from St. Louis by the name of 
Rogers. We went right through the Salt Lake Country. There was 
not a house nor a thing there, and it was a perfect waste. It looked 
to us then as though there never would be any thing there. We went 
on then down to Fort Uintah. This was about as far as this fellow 
knew. Then we got a new pilot. I think it was an Iroquois Indian, 
and he went on with us. 

Any reports about Indian wars would have made Love- 
joy uneasy, for on the way out that fall he and another 
member of the 1842 emigration, L. W. Hastings, were cap- 
tured and held prisoner for a time by the Sioux Indians. So 
Whitman was persuaded to take the long detour to the south. 
According to another report, Whitman secured Black Har- 
ris, also known as Moses Harris, as a guide for a part of 
the journey. 5 

There had long been a trail, in what is now New Mexico, 
connecting Taos and Sante Fe with the headwaters of the 
Platte River. As early as 1761, Don Juan Maria de Rivera 
reached the mouth of the Uncompahgre River, where Delta, 
Colorado, now is. In 1776, Father Escalante passed that way 
and continued farther north through the Uintah Basin to 
the Great Salt Lake. The old Spanish trail thus blazed was 
much used by the early traders and trappers, among whom 
was Antoine Robidoux, 6 who seems to have been in the 
Uintah Basin as early as 1831. 

Several forts were built along the trail. Going north 
from the south, one met first the fort at the mouth of the 
Uncompahgre known as Fort Uncompahgre or Fort Robi- 



5 O.H.Q., Vol. 2, p. 268. A. Hinman refers to Black Harris as "the 
guide who had conducted Doctor Whitman across the Rocky Moun- 
tains." Harris was one of Ashley's men and was one of the four who 
circumnavigated Great Salt Lake in 1825. Bancroft, Oregon, Vol. 1, 
p. 515. 

6 A brother of Joseph Robidoux, who founded the city of St. Joseph, 
Missouri. Whitman and Parker encamped with Joseph Robidoux in 
May, 1835. See O.H.Q., Sept., 1927, p. 243. Antoine Robidoux was 
with Fremont in California. Robidoux Mountain at Riverside, Cali- 
fornia, is named for him. 



296 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

doux. This seems to have been Robidoux's principal post. 
No remains of it are to be seen today. Robidoux had an- 
other trading point on the Uintah River near where it 
emerges from the Uintah Mountains and near the present 
site of White Rocks, Utah. These two posts were at least 
150 miles apart. In between was a point of lesser importance 
at the junction of White River with Green River, opposite 
the mouth of the Uintah River, which is now called the 
Duchesne. An old map shows a Fort Robidoux there. All 
evidence points to a short occupancy. Recently an inscrip- 
tion in French was discovered at the mouth of Westwater 
Canyon, in the Book Cliffs, north of Cisco, Utah, which reads 
when translated : 

Antoine Robidoux passed here November 13, 1837, to establish a 
trading house on the rivers Green or White. 7 

This inscription seems to date the fort at the mouth of 
White River and at the same time indicates the probable 
course of the old trail which connected Fort Uncompahgre 
with Fort Uintah. 

When Whitman and Lovejoy decided that it was best for 
them to go the southern way, 8 their first problem was to get 
to Fort Uintah. They had the choice of two routes from 
Fort Hall. They could go to where Alexander, Idaho, is now 
located, follow the Bear River to the Great Salt Lake, go 
around the west end of the Uintah and Wasatch Mountains, 
and then work eastward to Fort Uintah. The alternative 
route would lead them to what is now Soda Springs, Idaho, 
and Sage, Wyoming. At the latter point the trail followed 
Hams Fork to Blacks Fork, down to Green River. From 
there the trail led through Browns Hole to Fort Uintah. 

According to the vague impressions left by Love joy's 
accounts, the men took the western route along the Great 
Salt Lake. Whitman, however, told Horace Greeley that 
his route lay by way of "Soda Springs, Brown's Hole, Color- 
ado of the West, the Wina, and the waters of the del Norte." 9 



7 Discovered by Charles Kelly, of Salt Lake City. The Westwater 
Canyon is not the Westwater found on Utah maps, but a local name. 

8 Eells, Marcus Whitman, p. 158, states : "When they reached Fort 
Hall Captain Grant, desirous to prevent the Doctor from going, told 
him a falsehood that a war had broken out between the Pawnees and 
Cheyennes, and that it was not safe for him to proceed." There is no 
evidence to justify this accusation. Whitman stated they went south 
to avoid "hostile Indians." See New York Spectator, article by Civis, 
April 5, 1843. 

9 New York Tribune, March 29, 1843. 



WHITMAN RIDES 297 

This account is much to be preferred to Lovejoy's. Both 
Whitman and Love joy agreed about going to Fort Uintah, 
and from that place on there was but one trail they could 
have taken to get to Sante Fe. 

When Whitman, Lovejoy, and Grant discussed the va- 
rious routes at Fort Hall during those days, October 18-20, 
1842, they had firsthand information available as to the 
relative merits of the different routes. Farnham had trav- 
eled over the Browns Hole route in 1839, and so had Meek. 
Even though Lovejoy seems to have indicated the choice of 
the western route, it appears certain from Whitman's testi- 
mony that they went the eastern way. 

A fairly clear description of the trail they followed is to 
be found in Rufus B. Sage's book, Rocky Mountain Life. 
Sage left Taos with Robidoux on October 7, 1842, for Fort 
Uintah. It appears that Robidoux remained at Fort Uintah 
while Sage pushed on to Fort Hall. It is possible that Sage 
met Whitman and Lovejoy on the trail or at Fort Uintah. 

After studying all of the available records regarding this 
trail, the following is suggested as the probable route fol- 
lowed by Whitman and Lovejoy. The trail crossed the Green 
River near the mouth of Blacks Fork and followed along 
the southern bank for a time. Then to avoid some hills it 
crossed the river to the north bank, and then recrossed to 
the south. The trail then entered the mountains in order 
to avoid the river canyon and led in a southwestward direc- 
tion toward the point where the present states of Wyoming, 
Utah, and Colorado meet. Coming to either Red Creek or 
Ewing Creek, the trail led southward down into a valley 
located on the north and east banks of the Green River 
which was known as Browns Hole. 

As has already been pointed out, an unusually severe 
cold wave swept over the Pacific Northwest in November, 
1842. Spalding reported that the thermometer dropped to 
fifteen degrees below zero at Lapwai. All traditions, to- 
gether with Lovejoy's accounts, state that the two men met 
with deep snows and severe weather while crossing the 
mountains. Lovejoy wrote: "On our way from Fort Hall 
to Fort Uintah, we had terribly severe weather. The snows 
retarded our progress and blinded the trail so we lost much 
time." 10 While they may have had a difficult time in Browns 
Hole, yet it seems clear that they had passed that place when 
the November cold wave came. 



10 Nixon, How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon, p. 307. 



298 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

At Browns Hole, Whitman and Love joy found them- 
selves on the north side and east end of the Uintah Moun- 
tains. Since they could not follow the Green River through 
its canyon, they were obliged to cross what is now known 
as Diamond Mountain. The trail leading to the top of this 
mountain went up the canyon either of Sears Creek or Kettle 
Creek. It emerged on the top of a high treeless plateau 
which w#s open to the wild winds of winter. 

The trail led for twenty miles across this plateau before 
dropping down into the Uintah Basin. For a time it fol- 
lowed Ashley Creek, and then at about the mouth of Dry 
Fork it led in a southwestwardly direction to Fort Uintah. 11 
Judging by the rate of speed they made going from Waiilat- 
pu to Fort Hall, the men could have reached Fort Uintah 
by about the first of November. 

About that time, perhaps at Fort Uintah, Whitman met 
Miles Goodyear, who had joined the Whitman-Spalding 
party in 1836 when it crossed the plains and the mountains. 
Goodyear had stayed with the party, rendering valuable 
service until Fort Hall was reached. After an interval of 
six years Whitman and Goodyear met again. 

Goodyear took advantage of the occasion to send a letter 
by Dr. Whitman to a brother. The letter is dated : "Frontier 
of Mexico Rocky Mountains November 1, 1842," and from 
it the following extracts are taken : , 

Suffice to say that my time nor my paper admit of me giving you 
an entire narrative of my adventures for the last eight years. Time 
has rolled on; from youth I have arrived at manhood. I have gotten 
on with indifferent success so far through the world, hut have always 
found honesty the hest policy. 

I have for the last six years been in the Rocky Mountains, far 
from the land of civilization to use the words of the poet "as free 
as native air." 

Tell my friends and associates in youth, that my home's amid the 
mountain wild, the land I fancied from a child, to climb the cliff or 
tread the vale, where care nor trouble ne'er prevail, to hunt the roe, 
the stag, the deer, or breathe the mountain air so clear, or chase the 
buffalo o'er the plain for here I am and here remain. 12 

He stated that he then had property worth about twenty- 



11 Uintah was sometimes spelt Wintee, Winty, and Winta. Greeley 
refers to it as Wina. Greeley's "Colorado of the West" was the old 
name for Green River, and "the waters of del Norte" means the Rio 
Grande del Norte or Rio Grande. 

!2 Genealogy of the Goodyear Family, p. 192. This letter was called 
to my attention by M. L. Howe, of Ogden, Utah, and Charles Kelly, of 
Salt Lake City. See their book Miles Goodyear, p. 43. 



WHITMAN RIDES 299 

five hundred dollars, and requested that they direct their 
letters to him "to Independence P.O., care of Dr. Whitman, 
missionary to the west of the Rocky Mountains." Since the 
United States did not then have sovereignty over that part 
of the country, Fort Uintah would have been on the "Fron- 
tier of Mexico." Would that Goodyear had given his brother 
more information about Dr. Whitman. 13 

After making a few purchases and securing a new guide 
at the Fort, 14 Whitman and Love joy pressed on. The trail 
led down the Uintah River to the Green, which it crossed 
at the confluence. It is quite possible that Whitman and his 
companions spent a night in the abandoned fort at the mouth 
of White River. The trail then led up White River to a 
branch which brought the men out on the crest of Book 
Cliffs. They had to cross a divide to the headwaters of Bit- 
ter Creek, locally known as Westwater, which led southward 
down out of Book Cliffs to a point about twelve miles west 
of the present Utah-Colorado line, and about twenty miles 
north of the highway which today runs through Cisco, Utah, 
and Mack, Colorado. This part of the trail has been estab- 
lished by Kelly's discovery of the Antoine Robidoux in- 
scription. 

The trail then followed the Grand River, now called the 
Colorado, upstream to the junction of the Gunnison at what 
is now Grand Junction, Colorado, where it crossed the Grand 
and followed the Gunnison to the mouth of the Uncompah- 
gre, where Fort Uncompahgre was located. Love joy is con- 
fused in his description of this part of the trip. He speaks 
of their experiences in crossing the Grand after referring 
to their arrival at Fort Uncompahgre. After leaving the 
Fort, the trail followed the waters of the Uncompahgre to 
Montrose, and then up a branch to where Ouray, Colorado, 
now is. 

Both Whitman and Sage refer to going by the west side 
of the "Anahuac" Range, now called the La Plata Moun- 
tains. A pass, now used by a railroad, cut across these moun- 
tains east of what is now Mancos, Colorado, in the south- 



13 Andrew Goodyear, the brother of Miles, went West in 1847 to 
look for Miles. Both went to California during the gold rush. Miles 
died in 1850. Andrew became wealthy. Miles Goodyear's cabin is still 
standing at Ogden, Utah. 

14 Cannon, Waiilatpu, p. 62 : "Fremont, who passed there in 1844, 
says that the fort was attacked shortly afterwards by Utah Indians 
and all its occupants massacred except Robidoux, who happened to 
be absent." 



300 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

western part of the state. The trail then led southwestward 
around the southern end of the San Juan Mountains over 
the Continental Divide to the Rio Grande and thence to 
Taos and Sante Fe. In all probability the men went to 
Sante Fe before going to Taos. 

According to Lovejoy' s account, it took them more than 
a month to go from Fort Uintah to Taos, which would have 
put them in Taos sometime about the middle of December. 
This was by far the most difficult and the most dangerous 
part of their journey, and it was along this part that they 
almost lost their lives. The first obstacle of threatening im- 
portance which they faced was the Colorado River, which 
was crossed at the present site of Grand Junction, Colorado. 
The water was frozen on either side about one third of the 
way across the river. The following is Lovejoy's description 
of the crossing: 

This stream was some one hundred and fifty, or two hundred yards 
wide, and looked upon by our guide as very dangerous to cross in its 
present condition. But the Doctor, nothing daunted, was the first to 
take the water. He mounted his horse, and the guide and myself 
pushed them off into the boiling, foaming stream. Away they went 
completely under water horse and all; but directly came up, and 
after buffeting the waves and foaming current, he made to the ice on 
the opposite side, a long way down the stream leaped from his horse 
upon the ice, and soon had his noble animal by his side. The guide 
and myself forced in the pack animals; followed the doctor's example, 
and were soon drying our frozen clothes by a comfortable fire. 15 

About twenty years ago the Grand Junction chapter of 
the Sons of the American Revolution placed a bronze tablet 
upon a granite boulder near the place of the crossing to 
commemorate the daring feat. 

Lovejoy states that a new guide, a Spaniard, was secured 
at Fort Uncompahgre, and the men pushed on toward the 
most difficult and hazardous part of their journey. Their 
trail led them up into high mountains, where they encoun- 
tered a severe snowstorm. The guide became so confused 
that finally he confessed that the deep snows had so changed 
the face of the country that he could no longer find the trail. 
Lovejoy wrote: 

This was a terrible blow to the Doctor. He was determined not to 
give up without another effort. And we at once agreed that the Doctor 
should take the guide and make his way back to the fort, and .procure 
a new guide, and that I should remain in the camp with the animals 
until his return, which was on the seventh day with a new guide. 16 



15 Gray, Oregon, p. 325. 



WHITMAN RIDES 301 

With a new guide they started again at a snail's pace. 
Soon they ran out of provisions. One by one the pack mules 
were slain and eaten, and even the dog was not spared. Just 
as they faced the unpleasant prospect of dying for want of 
food, they had the good fortune to meet a party of hunters 
from Taos. "I never shall forget that time," wrote Lovejoy. 
"I know the old Dr ate so much it liked to have killed him. 
We were nearly starved to death." 17 

Whitman and Lovejoy reached Taos about the middle of 
December, 1842, perhaps passing through Sante Fe en route. 
There they secured a new outfit and continued their journey 
as soon as possible. Their next objective was Bents Fort, 
which had been established by the Bent brothers, of St. 
Louis, on the left bank of the Arkansas River, about midway 
between what is now La Junta and Las Animas, Colorado. 
A new guide, a Spaniard, was secured at Taos. [Letter 136.] 

When they were out from Taos fifteen days or more, 
Whitman and Lovejoy met George Bent, who was on his 
way to Taos. Bent informed them that a party of mountain 
men were about ready to leave the Fort for St. Louis. After 
discussing the matter, Whitman decided to push on ahead 
of Lovejoy and the guide in the hope of reaching the Fort 
in time to go with the party. He took the best horses and 
with his blankets and a limited supply of provisions, 
started out ahead. 

On January 3, Lovejoy and the guide with the pack ani- 
mals arrived at the Fort only to find to their dismay that 
Whitman had not arrived. The party of mountain men 
were then camped at Big Cottonwood, about forty miles 
east of the Fort. Urgent word was sent to them to tarry 
until Dr. Whitman could be located. Lovejoy then set out 
to find Dr. Whitman. He was found on or about January 6, 
quite convinced that he had gotten lost because he had trav- 
eled on a Sunday. Although very despondent and fatigued, 
Dr. Whitman hurried to join the party of mountain men. 

Lovejoy and Whitman parted company at Bents Fort. 
Lovejoy remained at the Fort that spring and joined the 
1843 emigration to Oregon the following summer. He met 
Dr. Whitman again near Fort Laramie in July. 

Not a single reference can be found to the four- 
hundred-mile trip that Dr. Whitman took from Bents 
Fort to Westport, Missouri. The trail he followed probably 



17 Lovejoy MS., Bancroft Collection. 



302 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

lay along the banks of the Arkansas to Great Bend, then 
across the country to the Smoky Hill River, then down it to 
where the Kansas River joins the Missouri, and then to 
Westport. 18 

The dates of Whitman's arrival at various points along 
his way can not be fixed with certainty because of lack of 
sufficient evidence. Whitman told Greene that he reached 
Westport on February 15. [Letter 127.] In the archives 
of Whitman College we find the following letter of intro- 
duction which harmonizes with the date Whitman gave 
Greene : 

Westport, Feby. 22nd, 43 
C. W. Boyers 
Independence 
Dr. Sir 

Allow me to introduce to you the bearer, Doctor Whitman, Supr. 
Intd. of American Boards Missions Oregon and of the Presbyterian 
order. Your attention to him will be duly acknowledged by your 
friend & Obt. Svt. 

A. G. Boone 19 

Boyers, to whom this letter was addressed, was an old 
freighter well qualified to advise Whitman on the subject 
of supplies. According to Perrin Whitman, the doctor left 
his animals at Independence, Missouri, until his return in 
the spring. 20 Not having enough money to settle with his 
guide, Whitman promised to pay after his return from Bos- 
ton. [Letter 136.] 

A new date in Dr. Whitman's progress across the coun- 
try can be fixed through a postmark on a letter which Dr. 
Whitman mailed for his wife at St. Louis. Among the let- 
ters he carried across the mountains was one from Narcissa 
to her sister and brother, Jane and Edward, then living at 
Quincy, Illinois. Narcissa had hoped that her husband would 
reach the States in time for him to pay a personal visit to 
Quincy before going East. However, the long detour and 
the severe weather had so delayed him that he found this 
impracticable, so the letter was forwarded from St. Louis. 



18 Spalding, Senate Document No. 87, p. 21, gives an incident which 
occurred "on the head-waters of the Arkansas," evidently before Whit- 
man reached Bents Fort. One day when Whitman desired some wood 
on the opposite side of a stream, he stretched himself out over the 
thin ice, and carefully slid over. That night a wolf carried off the 
axe for the leather string about the helve. 

19 Boyers was a charter member and elder in the Presbyterian 
church of Independence, Mo., also postmaster of the town. 

20 Whitman to Eells, Feb. 10, 1882, Coll. W. 



WHITMAN RIDES 303 

On the back of the letter addressed by Mrs. Whitman to 
Edward Prentiss, we find this note in Dr. Whitman's hand- 
writing: "Narcissa Whitman, Rocky Mountains, March 
9/43," and also the postmark of St. Louis of the same date. 
From this evidence we conclude that Dr. Whitman was in 
that city on that date. 21 

POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS 

While in St. Louis, Whitman was a guest in the home 
of Dr. Edward Hale, a dentist. It may be that Dr. Whit- 
man had known Hale as a young man in the East, although 
no record has been found of Hale's medical training. On 
July 19, 1871, when Hale was seventy years old, he wrote 
from North Cornwall, Connecticut, to H. H. Spalding, 
saying : 

I had the pleasure of entertaining Dr. Whitman at St. Louis on 
his last visit eastward to confer with the President & heads of de- 
partment in relation to the settlement of the N.W. boundary question 
with Gr. Britain by bartering away for a song the whole N.W. Pacific 
Territory. Also on his return to Oregon my house was [his] home 
while in St. Louis. 22 

Hale's testimony regarding the purpose of Whitman's 
ride is of especial interest because Hale was one of the very 
first to speak of Whitman's interest in political matters. 
Even though Hale wrote some twenty-eight years later, still 
he gave his testimony before any Whitman controversy was 
started to warp people's memories and influence their 
judgment. 23 

From another witness we also learn of Whitman's in- 
terest in the political affairs of the day as they affected Ore- 
gon. Boarding at the Hale home was a young schoolteacher 
by the name of William Barrows, who was tremendously 
interested in the strangely dressed visitor from the Far 
West. Barrows in later years was asked to write the Ore- 
gon volume in the American Commonwealth Series, edited 
by Horace E. Scudder. In this volume we find an interesting 
record of Whitman's visit to St. Louis. 

As soon as the news of Whitman's arrival became known, 



21 Spalding once claimed that Whitman reached Washington by 
March 3, 1843. Of course that was a mistake. 

22 Original in Coll. W. Also published in Myron Eells, A Reply to 
Professor Bourne, pp. 64-65. 

23 It is rather significant that W. I. Marshall, who has been the 
severest critic of the Whitman-Saved-Oregon story, should have re- 
frained from commenting on Hale's letter. 



304 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

many trappers, traders, and adventurers hurried to talk 
with him. Those who had friends or relatives in the 1842 
emigration were eager for the latest news. Others who 
were thinking about going to Oregon asked innumerable 
questions about the route and the opportunities in Oregon. 
Questions were also asked about the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany, treaties with the Indians, and so forth. Dr. Whitman 
was an enthusiastic "booster" for Oregon. We have ample 
evidence to show that he encouraged people to go. He ad- 
vised prospective emigrants regarding what they should 
take along. A few months later, when Whitman was back 
again on the western frontier after his trip to Washington 
and Boston, he wrote back to his brother-in-law Jonas 
Galusha Prentiss, and said: "A great many cattle are go- 
ing, but no sheep, from a mistake of what I said in passing. 
Next year will tell for sheep." [Letter 135.] 

Whitman was eager to learn the latest developments re- 
garding the Linn bill and the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, 
of which White had spoken. He learned that the Linn bill 
had not passed the second session of the Twenty-seventh 
Congress because of the negotiations then under way in re- 
gard to the treaty. President Tyler in his message to Con- 
gress of December 5, 1842, had pointed out the fact that 
since there was no prospect of an agreement on the question 
of the Oregon boundary, all reference to it had been omitted 
in the treaty. Tyler pointed out the necessity of settling 
one point at a time. The treaty did settle the Maine boun- 
dary dispute. 

With the treaty out of the way, the Linn bill was reintro- 
duced in the third session of the Twenty-seventh Congress. 
The bill called for the erection of a line of forts from the 
Western frontier to the mouth of the Columbia for the pro- 
tection of the emigrants. It granted 640 acres of land to 
every white male over eighteen years of age. It also pro- 
vided for the extension of the civil and criminal jurisdiction 
of the courts of the Territory of Iowa over the citizens of 
Oregon. 24 

Two of the strongest champions of Oregon were Senators 
Linn and Benton, of Missouri. Benton accused Webster of 
being willing to accept the Columbia River as the boundary 
line for the United States and Canada in Oregon. Rufus 
Choate, speaking for his friend Webster, replied to this by 
claiming that Webster was never willing to accept "any 



24 Winters, Congress and the Oregon Question, p. 289. 



WHITMAN RIDES 305 

line south of the 49th parallel of latitude, as a negotiable 
boundary line." 25 This is the line which was finally accepted. 

An examination of the Congressional Globe shows that 
the Oregon question received considerable attention in Con- 
gress during the winter of 1842-43. The Linn bill came to 
a vote in the Senate on February 3, 1843, and was passed 
by a vote of twenty-four to twenty-two. The opposition 
claimed that the proposals of the bill violated the Treaty of 
Joint Occupation which our government had made with 
Great Britain. After passing the Senate, the bill was sent 
to the House, where it was lost in the jam of business which 
is characteristic of the closing days of Congress. The third 
session of the Twenty-seventh Congress adjourned on March 
4, 1843, without action by the House. 

This was the situation as it was told to Whitman when 
he reached St. Louis on March 9, although the citizens of 
the city did not then know what had happened to the Linn 
bill during the closing days of Congress. It was generally 
believed that the Linn bill would eventually pass, even 
though it might fail in that Congress. This optimistic feel- 
ing, together with the favorable reports that had been sent 
back to the States from those who had gone to Oregon, were 
some of the primary reasons why so many were willing to 
go past the rich prairie lands of the Midwest to settle in 
distant Oregon. Lindsay Applegate, one of the emigrants 
of 1843, stated that he had received such favorable reports 
of Oregon from Robert Shortess, who went out in 1839, 
that he inserted a notice in the Booneville Herald about 
March 1, 1843, to the effect that an emigration party for 
Oregon would be organized that spring. 26 Another factor 
which prompted men to emigrate was the economic condi- 
tion on the frontier. The farmers found themselves far re- 
moved from an adequate market. The rapid increase of set- 
tlers in the Midwest only made matters worse. At this 
opportune time, when men were looking hopefully towards 
Oregon, Whitman arrived, ready to tell the very story they 
were eager to hear. 

A debatable issue regarding Whitman's trip East has 
been the degree of influence exercised by him in raising the 
1843 emigration. Of course there would have been such an 
emigration had Whitman never gone East. On the other 
hand, it seems quite clear that Whitman was instrumental 



25 Congressional Globe, 27th Congress, 3d Session, p. 172. 

26 Eells, Marcus Whitman (Pamphlet), p. 27. 



306 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

in getting many to go to Oregon who otherwise might not 
have gone. Two different people refer to a pamphlet which 
Whitman wrote on the advantages of Oregon. 27 Unfortu- 
nately no copy of the pamphlet has been found. An exam- 
ination has been made of the two daily St. Louis newspapers 
then being published without finding a reference to Whit- 
man's arrival. 28 

Before Myron Eells wrote his pamphlet on Marcus Whit- 
man, which was issued in 1883, he wrote to some of the 
survivors of the 1843 emigration to find out the extent of 
Whitman's influence in getting people to go to Oregon. His 
conclusions were that while Dr. Whitman did not influence 
all the emigrants to go, he was instrumental in getting some. 
Four out of fourteen witnesses claimed that they went be- 
cause of Dr. Whitman's representations. 

Among those who were induced by Whitman to go to 
Oregon were the Hobson, Eyers, and Thomas Smith fam- 
ilies, and a young lawyer by the name of John Ricord. Eyers 
owned a shop in St. Louis at the time Whitman passed 
through the city, which was a meeting place for many who 
were thinking of going to Oregon. It was there that John 
Hobson met Dr. Whitman. 29 It is easy to accept the state- 
ment of Barrows regarding the interest in Oregon which 
Whitman's visit aroused. 

Whitman was anxious to be on his way. The time was 
short, for he felt that he should be back in St. Louis by the 
first of May. 30 Even though he knew that he would reach 
Washington after the adjournment of Congress, Whitman 
decided to adhere to his original plan of visiting that city. 
If Congress had been in session, anything that Whitman 
might have done to influence Oregon legislation would be 
a matter of pure speculation. 



27 Ibid., p. 30. Mrs. C. B. Gary wrote: "It was a pamphlet Dr. 
Whitman wrote that induced me to come to Oregon." Spalding, Senate 
Document No. 37, p. 26. John Zachrey declared : "The occasion of my 
father starting that season for this country, as also several of our 
neighbors, was a publication by Dr. Whitman, or from his repre- 
sentations, concerning Oregon In the pamphlet " 

28 Marshall, op. cit., Vol. 2, pp. 280-81. 

29 Oregonian, Jan. 24, 1886, and Eells, Marcus Whitman (Pam- 
phlet), p. 31. 

so Marshall, History vs. The Whitman Saved Oregon Story, p. 82, 
claims that traffic on the Great Lakes did not begin until May 6. So 
Whitman must have returned to the East by stage. 



WHITMAN RIDES 307 

THE TRIP TO WASHINGTON 

We do not know just when Whitman reached Washing- 
ton. He was in New York on March 28. Since he was in St. 
Louis on the 9th, it is reasonable to believe that he reached 
the capital city by the 23rd. This would have given him 
two weeks to make the trip from St. Louis to Washington, 
which would have been ample time. En route he stopped 
at Cincinnati, where he was a guest in the home of Dr. 
George L. Weed. George Ludington Weed, who was a boy 
at the time, wrote his memories of that event for the No- 
vember, 1897, issue of the Ladies' Home Journal. Weed 
wrote : 

Most unexpected was his appearance at my father's in Cincinnati, 
where he was a welcome visitor when on his journeys across the conti- 
nent, and where he had brought his bride seven years before. We 
thought him on the banks of the Columbia. It fell to me to receive 
him at the door. My memory of that morning is still fresh with boyish 
wonderment. I stared at what seemed an apparition. 

He was dressed in his mountain garb, His fur garments, buckskin 
breeches, fur leggins, boot moccasins and buffalo overcoat with head 
hood, had been poor protection from the cold and storms of the fearful 
ride. His face and hands and feet had been frozen. I still hear his 
earnest question for my father, who was at a morning prayer-meeting 
in the church of Dr. Lyman Beecher, whither he immediately went. 
His presence there created a sensation. He tarried in Cincinnati but 
a few hours, long enough to be provided with some of the comforts 
and appearances of civilization. 

This description of Whitman's dress harmonizes with 
other accounts. Barrows likewise mentions the frozen 
hands, feet, and parts of the face. He states that Whitman 
had a four months' growth of beard, and that he wore 
"coarse fur garments and vesting, and buckskin breeches." 
He had a buffalo overcoat with a head hood, and heavy fur 
leggins with boot moccasins. Barrows declared : "If mem- 
ory is not at fault with me, his entire dress, when on the 
street, did not show one square inch of woven fabric." 31 
Whitman called on Horace Greeley in New York on March 
28, and Greeley, after giving a similar description of Whit- 
man's dress, wrote that he was "the roughest man that we 
have seen this many a day." 32 Whitman later told Gushing 
Eells that he sometimes wore "a blue English duffle coat" 
beneath the buffalo coat and that the duffle coat was several 
inches longer. Whitman laughingly remarked that it was 



31 Barrows, Oregon, p. 176. 

32 New York Tribune, Mar. 29, 1843. 



308 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

"rather fantastic for a missionary, a buffalo coat with a blue 
border." 33 

Whitman's visit to Washington has been a focal point 
for discussion in the Whitman controversy. Some have 
doubted that he ever went to Washington. The adherents 
of the Whitman-Saved-Oregon story have stressed the point 
that Whitman visited Washington before going to Boston, 
and have drawn the conclusion that his political interests 
were more important than the missionary cause. Marshall, 
the fiery opponent of this theory, wrote: "It is altogether 
probable that he went to Washington from Boston." 34 Whit- 
man was still in Boston on April 8, and he left Rushville 
for the West again on April 20. In this interval of twelve 
days there would not have been sufficient time for him to 
go to Washington and then to Rushville and have any time 
to visit relatives and friends. Therefore, it seems conclusive 
from a study of the known chronology of the period, that 
Whitman went to Washington first. However, it should be 
pointed out that this fact does not prove that a political 
motive was the all-important factor that caused him to go 
East. Whitman knew that his time was limited and that if 
he went to Washington he would have to do so while en 
route to Boston. 

That he actually visited Washington seems to be proved 
without a doubt from the following evidence : 

1. A letter from the Hon. Alexander Ramsey to Myron Eells, dated 
August 15, 1883, in which he claims that he met Dr. Whitman in 
Washington at a boardinghouse on Capitol Hill "in the winter of 
1842-43." 3 5 

2. The Hon. James M. Porter, Secretary of War, received a letter 
on June 22, 1844, from Dr. Whitman which contains this sentence: 
"In compliance with the request you did me the honor to make last 
Winter, while in Washington " [Letter 143.] 

3. At least two different persons received letters from Dr. Whit- 
man which were written by him in Washington. Unfortunately in 
both cases the originals have been lost, so the exact date of Whitman's 
presence there can not be ascertained through them. William C. Mc- 
Kay, then a medical student at Willoughby, Ohio, claimed in a letter 
written January 30, 1885, and published in the 1889 Transactions of 
the Oregon Pioneer Association that Whitman wrote to him from 
Washington. 

A letter written to General 0. F. Marshal, Wheeler, New York, 



33 Mo wry, Marcus Whitman, p. 166. 
3 * Marshall, op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 68. 

3 5 Original, Coll. W. Published in Eells, Marcus Whitman (Pam- 
phlet), p. 16. 



WHITMAN RIDES 309 

remained in the family for a number of years and was seen by a 
living grandson. 36 

4. Perrin Whitman visited Washington in 1868 at which time he 
met a man who claimed that he met Dr. Whitman "on that famous 
trip to Washington." 37 

In addition to the above evidence we have the testimony 
concerning the interviews that Whitman had with President 
Tyler and members of the cabinet. According to a claim 
made by William Geiger, Whitman was a friend of John C. 
Spencer (1788-?), who was Secretary of the Treasury in 
Tyler's cabinet when Whitman was in Washington. 38 Spen- 
cer settled in Canandaigua, the county seat of Ontario 
County, New York, in 1809, where he practiced law. He 
took an active part in the anti-Masonic agitation of 1827 
and following years. After holding a number of political 
offices, he was made Secretary of War on October 12, 1841. 
This position he held until March 3, 1843, when he became 
Secretary of the Treasury. James Madison Porter (1793- 
1862) succeeded him as Secretary of War. 39 

Since Rushville is but ten miles from Canandaigua, it is 
altogether probable that Whitman, as a medical student 
riding with Dr. Bryant, had frequent opportunities to meet 
Spencer. The very first entry in the diary of Jonathan Pratt, 
made January 1, 1824, states that Jonathan had been to 
Canandaigua to hear an oration by Mr. J. C. Spencer. This 
connection of Whitman with Spencer may have been a rea- 
son which influenced Whitman to go to Washington. White 
undoubtedly told Whitman of Spencer's position in the cab- 
inet, and since all Indian affairs were then placed under 
the jurisdiction of the Secretary of War, Spencer would 
have been the person most concerned with the welfare of 
the Oregon Indians. Moreover, since the Oregon Trail went 
through Indian country, the Secretary of War would be the 
official most interested in the welfare of the emigrants. 
Whitman was no ordinary visitor to Washington. He had 
a friend in the President's cabinet through whom he could 
quickly and effectively present his case. 



36 The grandson, O. F. Marshal, of Wheeler, wrote to Dr. Pratt, 
March 3, 1898, and referred to this letter. (Original, Coll. Wn.) The 
author met the grandson in the summer of 1935 and again in 1936. 
The grandson claims the letter was sent to some church board in New 
York or Philadelphia. The original has not been located. 

37 Portland Oregonian, obituary notice of Perrin Whitman, Jan. 
29, 1899. 

38 Clark to Bells, April 29, 1901, Coll. W. 

39 Eells, Marcus Whitman, p. 160, confuses Spencer with Porter. 



310 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

According to Geiger, Spencer introduced Whitman to 
Mr. Porter, then Secretary of War, and to Daniel Webster, 
Secretary of State, and also to President Tyler. There can 
be no doubt but that Whitman saw Porter, as is proved by 
Whitman's letter to Porter. [Letter 143.] Spalding claimed 
that Whitman secured an interview with Tyler through 
Senator Linn. Spalding also claimed that Tyler was about 
to trade off Oregon for a codfishery but that Whitman per- 
suaded the President to wait until he demonstrated the 
feasibility of taking emigrants with their wagons through 
to Oregon. 40 

Gray, who evidently built on Spalding's account, wrote 
in his Oregon: 

Mr. Tyler, after listening to the Doctor's statements with far more 
candor and interest than Mr. Webster was disposed to do, informed 
him that, notwithstanding they had received entirely different state- 
ments from gentlemen of the Hudson's Bay Company and the British 
minister, then in Washington, yet he would trust to his personal rep- 
resentation and estimate of the value of the country to the American 
people. He said: "Dr. Whitman, in accordance with your representa- 
tions and agreeable to your request, this question shall be deferred. 
An escort shall be furnished for the protection of the emigration you 
propose to conduct to that distant country." 41 

Barrows, Nixon, Eells, and all others who have accepted 
the Whitman-Saved-Oregon story have gone back to Spald- 
ing and Gray for their final authority. Whitman never made 
any such extensive claims for himself in any of his known 
letters still extant. Just where Spalding got the idea that 
Tyler was about to negotiate a treaty with Great Britain 
in which the United States would relinquish its claim to 
Oregon for some codfisheries is not known. This theory has 
no documentary foundation whatever. 

From the testimony of several who received their in- 
formation direct from Dr. Whitman, it seems clear that 
Whitman did have an interview with the President. Love- 
joy wrote: 

He often expressed himself to me about the remainder of the 
journey, and the manner in which he was received at Washington, 
and by the Board of Foreign Missions at Boston. He had several in- 



40 San Francisco Pacific, Nov. 9, 1865. See also Marshall, op. cit., 
Vol. 2, pp. 64 if. 

41 P. 316. Whitman visited Gray at Oregon City in the fall 
of 1843 at which time he told of his Washington trip. Eells, Marcus 
Whitman (Pamphlet), p. 9. 



WHITMAN RIDES 311 

terviews with President Tyler, Secretary Webster, and a good many 
members of Congress Congress being in session at that time. 42 

Geiger claimed that Whitman saw the President. 43 Per- 
rin Whitman likewise referred to the interview. 44 It is in- 
conceivable to believe that such different characters as 
Spalding, Gray, Love joy, and Perrin Whitman should have 
deliberately concocted the story of Whitman's interview 
with President Tyler. Spalding and Perrin Whitman be- 
came rather antagonistic to each other in later years, yet 
neither of them ever wavered in his conviction that Marcus 
Whitman saw President Tyler. 

Mowry in his Marcus Whitman adds a new note to the 
discussion by quoting from correspondence received from 
Lyon Gardiner Tyler, LL.D., then President of William and 
Mary College, who was a son of President Tyler by his 
second marriage. Among other things, L. G. Tyler claimed 
that his older half-brother, John Tyler, who served as pri- 
vate secretary for his father, said that "he remembered 
Whitman very well, that he was in Washington, 1842-43, 
full of his project to carry emigrants to Oregon, that he 
waited on the President and received from him the heartiest 
concurrence in his plans, etc." 45 Since this recollection was 
given about forty years afterward, it is possible that John 
Tyler confused Whitman with Dr. White, who was in Wash- 
ington the previous year. 46 W. I. Marshall, the author of 
Acquisition of Oregon, had some correspondence with L. G. 
Tyler and succeeded in getting a retraction from him on 
several points. 47 However, L. G. Tyler did not retract his 
statement regarding his brother's impression of an inter- 
view that Dr. Marcus Whitman had with the President. 

In a letter to Myron Eells, dated January 10, 1902, L. 
G. Tyler declared : 



42 Nixon, op. cit., pp. 310-311. Lovejoy was mistaken in stating 
that Congress was in session at the time. 

43 Eells, op. cit., p. 4. 

44 Ibid., p. 13. Another to make this claim was David Lennox. See 
his Overland to Oregon, p. 60. "It was my lot as a boy of sixteen, both 
to see Dr. Whitman on his return trip to Oregon, and to hear him tell 
how he had crossed the mountains in 1842, to see President Tyler and 
Daniel Webster." 

45 Mowry, op. cit., p. 172. 

4e New York Tribune, May 25, 1848, quoting from the Pittsburgh 
Chronicle, stated : "Dr. White and . . . others were killed." The refer- 
ence is to the Whitman Massacre and shows how Whitman and White 
were confused. Bourne, Essay, p. 97. 

47 Marshall, op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 313. 



312 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

As to the influence of Whitman upon the government, I do not 
believe his interviews had any determining effect. The attitude of 
the government would have been the same, had Whitman never showed 
up. It had certainly no effect upon the President when early messages 
show that he was keenly alive to the importance of Oregon. 48 

Just what Whitman said and how much influence he had 
upon Tyler in later events as they dealt with Oregon will 
never be known. Undoubtedly, many at Washington, in- 
cluding the President, were much interested in talking with 
Dr. Whitman, who had so much firsthand information to 
give. Perhaps the feasibility of taking wagons through to 
Oregon came up, and if so, Dr. Whitman certainly would 
have affirmed his belief that it could be done, for it had 
been done. If we may judge Whitman's interests by the 
contents of the proposed bill which he later submitted, then 
Whitman talked about the necessity of the Government's 
establishing a chain of forts from the frontier to the Wil- 
lamette Valley for the protection of the emigrants. This 
suggestion had already been incorporated in the Linn bill. 
He probably talked about the possibility of establishing 
what later became known as the Pony Express. In his 
letter to Porter which accompanied the bill he wrote: "I 
need only add that contracts for this purpose will be readily 
taken at reasonable rates for transporting the mail across 
from Missouri to the mouth of the Columbia in forty days, 
with fresh horses at each of the contemplated posts." The 
first time the Pony Express was established to carry mail 
from St. Louis to San Francisco was in April, 1860. It 
appears that Whitman's suggestion, made seventeen years 
earlier, is the first time the possibility of such a plan was 
brought to official notice. 

Whitman also talked about the advisability of having 
the emigrants take sheep with them to Oregon. Writing 
later to Jonas Galusha, Whitman said that he meant to 
impress the Secretary of War that sheep were more impor- 
tant to Oregon than soldiers. [Letter 135.] It appears that 
Porter requested Whitman to draw up a bill and submit 
it to him. The original of this is now on file in the War 
Department marked: "rec. June 22, 1844." 49 It bears no 
date and the supposition is that Whitman drew it up and 



48 Coll. W. Also, Marshall, op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 315, for a similar 
quotation made by Tyler to Marshall. 

49 Mowry, Marcus Whitman, pp. 274 ff., gives a copy of the bill. 
The bill was discovered in the files of the War Department by Dr. 
J. S. Parker, son of Samuel Parker, in 1891. 



WHITMAN RIDES 313 

mailed it after he returned to Oregon. When the copy of 
his bill reached Washington, the Atchison bill was before 
Congress with similar proposals, so nothing was done with 
Whitman's bill but to file it away. 

The Oregon question became a burning political issue 
in the Presidential campaign of 1844. Polk was elected on 
the slogan of "Fifty-four forty or fight." 50 While the Ore- 
gon question was much discussed during the first session 
of the Twenty-eighth Congress, no definite action was taken. 
The second session, which met 1844-45, again took up the 
Oregon question without coming to a definite conclusion. 
The Twenty-ninth Congress, 1845-46, also wrestled with 
the problem. On August 6, 1846, Congress was notified that 
the boundary line had been settled at the 49th parallel. The 
Mexican War was then engaging the attention of Congress, 
so nothing was done about encouraging emigrants to go to 
Oregon by promising free land. About two years later, 
under circumstances which will be subsequently outlined, 
Oregon became a territory. 

Leslie M. Scott has admirably summed up the purpose 
of Whitman's visit to Washington in the following words : 

In view of the very great interest in Oregon, his evident purpose 
was to lay before the proper authorities his conclusions, derived from 
his experience, as to the practicability of a wagon route to the Colum- 
bia; and also to urge the desirability of the government establishing 
a mail route from the Missouri to the Columbia, with government 
posts or stations along the way, not only for protecting and aiding 
the immigrants, but also for the purpose of extending a measure of 
civil government over the vast region between these two rivers. 51 

Although Marcus Whitman rode East on mission busi- 
ness, his deep interest in the political destinies of Oregon 
caused him to turn aside to visit Washington while en route 
to Boston. There was a political purpose in Whitman's 
visit to Washington, for how else is it possible to explain 
his presence in that city? However, it does not appear that 
his visit there was effective in shaping any government pol- 
icy involving Oregon. No treaty affecting the Pacific North- 
west was then under consideration. The Oregon emigration 
movement had already started without Whitman's influence, 
and there were many in the East who were just as con- 



50 Bancroft, Oregon, Volume 1, pp. 369 ff., gives a good review of 
the history of the various Oregon bills presented before the different 
sessions of Congress. 

51 O.H.Q., 13, p. 172, from Scott's article, "John Fiske's Change 
of Attitude on the Whitman Legend." 



314 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

cerned about Oregon's future as Whitman was himself. 
Whitman's visit to Washington was that of an enthusiastic 
friend of Oregon eager to pass on information which he 
considered of value to those occupying positions of high 
authority. The final bond which made Oregon a part of the 
Union was the presence of thousands of emigrants in that 
territory. Whitman was destined to play an important part 
in the emigrant movement, and in this respect he did more 
than any other single individual to save Oregon. 

WHITMAN'S VISIT TO NEW YORK AND BOSTON 

Whitman probably left Washington in order to arrive 
in New York on Saturday, March 25, 1843. We know of 
his reluctance to travel on Sunday and we also know that 
he took passage on the Narragansett on Monday, March 27, 
for Boston. 

In New York, Whitman again took time to turn aside 
because of his political interests. He sought out Horace 
Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, on Monday, March 
27. When he knocked at the entrance of Greeley's home or 
office, a woman came to the door. She was surprised to see 
a man standing before her clad in such strange garb. Whit- 
man did not make a good first impression, and when he in- 
quired whether or not Mr. Greeley was in, he was curtly told 
that Mr. Greeley was not at home. Disappointed, Whitman 
turned to go away. 

In the meantime Greeley inquired regarding the visitor 
and was probably told that the stranger, dressed worse 
than a tramp, had been turned away. Greeley hurried to 
the window and caught a glimpse of his visitor. Greeley 
himself was none too particular in matters of dress and 
saw something in Whitman which attracted his attention. 
He immediately asked that his visitor be called back, and 
after due apologies were made, Whitman was invited into 
the house, where the two men had a long talk. 52 

The next day Greeley wrote an editorial of about five 
hundred words, which appeared in the New York Tribune 
on March 29. After mentioning the arrival of Dr. Whitman, 
Greeley wrote: "A slight glance at him when he entered 
our office would convince any one that he had seen all the 
hardships of a life in the wilderness." Greeley continued : 



52 The details of this visit were given by Alan Hinman, who evi- 
dently received them direct from Dr. Whitman, in a letter to Myron 
Eells, dated June 8, 1883. Eells, Marcus Whitman (Pamphlet), p. 14. 



WHITMAN RIDES 315 

A noble pioneer we judge him to be, a man fitting to be chief in 
rearing a moral empire among the wild men of the wilderness. We 
did not learn what success the worthy man had in leading the Indians 
to embrace the Christian faith, but he very modestly remarked that 
many of them had begun to cultivate the earth and to raise cattle. 

After repeating some of the news Whitman brought con- 
cerning the American settlements in Oregon and outlining 
his trip, Greeley concluded his editorial with the following 
paragraph : 

We give the hardy and self-denying man a hearty welcome to his 
native land. We are sorry to say that his first reception on arriving 
in our city was but slightly calculated to give him a favorable impres- 
sion of the morals of his kinsmen. He fell into the hands of one of 
our vampire cabmen who in connection with the keeper of a tavern 
house in West street, three or four doors from the corner near the 
Battery fleeced him out of two of the last few dollars which the poor 
man had. 53 

While in New York, Whitman called at the offices of the 
Foreign Board of the Methodist Church, where he met Ed- 
ward R. Ames, secretary in charge of the Oregon mission 
of that denomination. Ames spoke of the dissension which 
existed in the Methodist mission and informed Whitman 
that Jason Lee had been recalled. Perhaps a letter from 
that Board was on its way to Oregon with the news, but 
it so happened that Whitman was the first to break it to 
Lee. 54 

Further information regarding Dr. Whitman's move- 
ments and incidentally also his experiences with the cab- 
man, is to be found in an article signed "Civis" which ap- 
peared in the New York Spectator on April 5, 1843. "Civis" 
was a passenger on the Narragansett, which left New York 
"at the usual time" on Monday. The boat met with rough 
weather in the Sound, and the captain was obliged to put 
in at New Haven at midnight. Tuesday, March 28, was 
spent in port. The next morning they lifted anchor and 
continued on their way to Boston, arriving there on the 
29th. "Civis" remarked on Whitman's dress. "Rarely have 
I seen such a spectacle as he presented," he wrote. "His 
dress should be preserved as a curiosity." Yet Whitman 
made an impression upon the newspaper correspondent as 
the following quotation proves : 

He is about thirty-six or seven years of age, I should judge, and 
has stamped on his brow a great deal of what David Crockett would 
call "God Almighty's common sense." 



53 Reprinted in O.H.Q., 1903, pp. 168-69. 

54 Brosnan, Jason Lee, p. 213. 



316 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

"Civis" also referred to Whitman's experience in New 
York with the cabman for he wrote : "A rascally hackman 
took him in at New York, and carried him from place to 
place at his whim and finally put him down near the Bat- 
tery, and it being midnight he succeeded in the vile ex- 
tortion." 55 

The fact that "Civis" thought Dr. Whitman was but 
thirty-six or thirty-seven years old when he was then in 
his fortieth year speaks well for Whitman's youthful ap- 
pearance. 

In the files of the American Board in Boston is the reso- 
lution signed by Walker, Eells, and Spalding on September 
28, 1842, which authorized Whitman to go East. On the 
back is a notation to the effect that it was received in Bos- 
ton on March 30, 1843. Since Whitman carried this paper 
with him, we can accept the date as the time when he first 
called at the American Board offices. 

No one has given us an account of the first meeting of 
Whitman and Greene. It is easy to imagine the surprise 
which Greene must have experienced when he first saw his 
buckskin-clad visitor. He must have been even more sur- 
prised when the stranger introduced himself as Dr. Marcus 
Whitman, of Waiilatpu. Among the first questions asked 
by Greene was this: "Why did you leave your station?" 
Whitman told of the arrival of the order dated February 
25, 1842, which dismissed Spalding and closed the mission 
stations of Lapwai and Waiilatpu. From references found 
in some of Whitman's later letters, we assume that Greene 
gave him a cool reception. 56 

In a letter written on June 5, 1883, to Myron Eells, Wil- 
liam Geiger gives this picture of Whitman's reception by 
Mr. Hill, the treasurer of the Board: "Mr. Hill received 
him quite roughly. Mr. Hill said 'what are you here for, 
leaving your posts.' & at last said in not a very pleasant 
way as he offered him some money. 'Go get some decent 
clothes.' " 57 

On Friday, March 31, Whitman was back in the offices 
of the American Board, where the reception was a bit more 



55 Reprinted in the O.H.Q., 1903, pp. 169-70. The Boston Recorder 
for April 6 reprinted Greeley's editorial with a few words of comment, 
including the following statement: "The station where Dr. Whitman 
formerly labored, Waulatpu, was some time since abandoned, for 



various reasons." 



56 Lovejoy MS. to Bancroft: "They censured him for going on." 

57 Coll. W. 



WHITMAN RIDES 317 

cordial. He was soon made acquainted with the new devel- 
opments in the Oregon mission case. Greene had written 
to Whitman on April 28, 1842, about two months after the 
fateful order had been sent forth dismissing Spalding and 
closing Waiilatpu. In all probability Greene handed a copy 
of the letter to Whitman to read. If so he then read the 
following : 

When the case of your mission came up in February it seemed to 
be a perfectly clear case that the Committee should decide upon it 
as mentioned in my letters to yourself and the mission written about 

the first of March But had your letter of the 13th of July and 

Mr. Spaldings of the same date, 1841, been before the Com. they would 
almost necessarily decided differently. 

In this letter Greene authorized Whitman "to go on as 
you were going before those instructions were received." 
The letters of Whitman and Spalding, which were so in- 
fluential in changing Greene's attitude, were written shortly 
after the Waiilatpu mission meeting of June, 1841, at which 
time a reconciliation had been effected with Spalding. Spald- 
ing had learned for the first time of the letters of complaint 
which had been sent in about him, and was duly humbled. 

Greene informed Whitman that he would resubmit the 
matter relating to the Oregon Mission to the Prudential 
Committee. This was done in March, 1843, shortly before 
Whitman arrived in Boston. In the meantime Greene had 
received the letter of June 8, 1842, which was signed by 
Walker, Eells, and Spalding. This letter was submitted to 
the Prudential Committee. The members of the Committee 
were not as lenient as Greene and refused to repeal their 
former order dismissing Spalding and closing the stations 
of Lapwai and Waiilatpu. Greene, therefore, on March 21, 
1843, wrote again to Whitman, saying in part : 

Our latest dates now are a joint letter of Messrs. Walker, Eells & 
Spalding of June 8, 1842. The statements there made do not seem to 
be of sufficient importance to lead this Committee to change what they 
had before done & communicated to you in March of last year. 58 



58 In Drury, Spalding, p. 289, the author gave a different interpre- 
tation to the action of the Committee of March 21, 1843. Greene refers 
to the letter sent to Whitman "in March of last year." The order of 
the Committee was dated February 25, 1842, while Greene's letter 
temporarily suspending the order was dated April 28, 1842. However, 
in a letter of Greene to Spalding, dated April 28, 1842, he refers to 
the order of February as having been written "about the first of 
March." Thus the author feels it necessary to reverse his former in- 
terpretation. The Committee in March, 1843, confirmed its action of 
February, 1842. 



318 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

This was the situation which Whitman faced when he 
reached Boston. The disastrous order of February, 1842, 
was still in effect and if Whitman had not gone to Boston 
to intercede in behalf of the mission, the changes ordered 
would have been made just at the time when Waiilatpu was 
most needed to minister to the emigrants bound for the 
Willamette Valley. 

On Tuesday, April 4, the Prudential Committee of the 
American Board met in the Board rooms. Mr. Greene laid 
before the Committee a memorandum of information re- 
ceived from Dr. Whitman. This, in Mr. Greene's handwrit- 
ing, may still be seen in the files of the American Board. 59 
This memorandum contained the latest word regarding the 
status of the mission personnel and set forth Whitman's 
desire for re-enforcements and for pious settlers who would 
go out not as appointed missionaries but as interested citi- 
zens to settle in the vicinity of the mission stations and 
render such assistance in material things as was possible. 

Whitman had talked with Greene about the advisability 
of taking steps to get indemnity from the United States 
Government for property taken by the Sioux Indians from 
W. H. Gray in the summer of 1837. Greene submitted this 
question to the Committee. In Greene's memorandum we 
read: "Rev. H. H. Spalding requests that he may be al- 
lowed to remain in the mission, in which request the other 
brethren unite." 

Whitman was called before the Committee to answer 
questions and give an oral report. 60 Whitman made a good 
impression, and the minutes of the Prudential Committee 
show that favorable action was secured on every point de- 
sired, as the following extracts will prove : 

Resolved, That Doct. Marcus Whitman and the Rev. H. H. Spalding 
be authorized to continue to occupy the stations at Waiilatpu and 
Clear Water, as they did previous to the adoption of the resolutions 
referred to above, [i.e. to the resolutions of the 15th and 23rd of 
Feb. 1843.] 

Resolved. That a missionary be sent to strengthen the Oregon 
mission, if a suitable person can be found. 

Permission was given to Gray to leave the mission, and 
also to Whitman to take out to Oregon "a small company of 
intelligent and pious laymen" if this could be done without 



69 Greene stated in this that Whitman reached Boston on March 30. 

60 Those present were Samuel T. Armstrong, Charles Stoddard, 
Nehemiah Adams, Silas Aiken, Henry Hill, Rufus Anderson, David 
Greene, and Selah B. Treat. Treat later succeeded Greene. 



WHITMAN RIDES 319 

expense to the Board. Whitman did his best to arouse 
Greene's interest in this plan of inducing "pious laymen" 
to go to Oregon, but Greene remained rather indifferent to 
the idea. 

Although the minutes of the Prudential Committee make 
no reference to the Gray affair, we find that Whitman wrote 
to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs from Boston on Sat- 
urday, April 8. [Letter 129.] Gray had rendered an account 
of the incident to Major Pilcher on August 7, 1837. On 
September 16, 1837, Gray had addressed a claim for $2,096.- 
45 to General William Clark at St. Louis to pay for horses 
and supplies stolen by the Sioux. The Indian Commissioner 
at Washington had other papers relating to the case, among 
them being a report from Major Pilcher dated March 4, 
1839, in which Pilcher declared that after a full investiga- 
tion he was convinced that "the difficulty arose from Mr. 
Gray's own imprudence, and that most of the claim is alto- 
gether unfounded." Pilcher recommended that nothing be 
done. 61 

The Indian Commissioner, T. H. Crawford, was evi- 
dently guided by Pilcher's recommendations even after he 
received Whitman's letter, for nothing was done by the 
Government to reimburse the Board, Gray, or the Nez 
Perces for property lost on that occasion. Whitman's re- 
quest for indemnity was courteously worded. "We do not 
wish to press the subject," he wrote, "but leave it with your 
department to do what you deem proper." 

Judging from a paper written by Whitman and received 
by Greene on April 7, 1843, Whitman was requested by the 
Prudential Committee to write a paper on the Indians west 
of the Rockies. In this paper he went into some detail re- 
garding their medical practices, superstitions, and so forth. 
From the dates on this paper and on the letter to the Indian 
Commissioner, we assume that Whitman remained in Bos- 
ton until Saturday, April 8. 

In the Thirty-Fourth Annual Report of the American 
Board, which appeared in September, 1843, we find the 
following comment on the purpose of Whitman's ride: 

Early in the autumn of last year, and immediately after receiving 
instructions of the Prudential Committee to discontinue the southern 
branch of the Oregon mission, a meeting of the missionaries from all 
the stations was held to consider the course to be adopted. In their 
estimation, the circumstances of the mission and its prospects were 

61 Originals in Old Indian Files, Washington, D. C. Photostat 
copies in Coll. Wn. 



320 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

so far changed, that they should be justified in going forward with 
the mission as it then was, until the case could be again referred to 
the Committee; and it was thought expedient that Doct. Whitman 
should proceed immediately to Boston with the hope that he might 
return to his labors again early in the ensuing spring. 

Nothing is said about Whitman's visit to Washington or 
about any possible political motives which may have inspired 
him to leave his work at that time. As far as the Board 
was concerned, Whitman rode on mission business, and he 
was successful in obtaining the desired changes in the 
Board's order. 62 

One other item from this annual report is worthy of 
mention. Whitman had given Greene a vision of the future 
development of Oregon and had stressed the strategic lo- 
cation of the Waiilatpu station. Greene then wrote: "In 
view of the subject, the importance of sustaining the mission 
becomes much more obvious & great. It is seen to have new, 
wider and more permanent bearings. . . . They anticipate 
the wave of white population which is rolling westward." 



62 See Appendix 4 for a discussion of the literature bearing upon 
the Whitman controversy. 



CHAPTER SIXTEEN 

"WESTWARD HO" 
1843 

DURING the spring of 1843 there was an awakened in- 
terest in Oregon throughout the States, as is evidenced 
by the frequency with which editorials and articles on that 
subject appeared in the press. Oregon was called "the pio- 
neer's land of promise," 1 and "a country of the largest lib- 
erty, the only known land of equality on the face of the 
earth." 2 The accounts of Oregon found in the published 
books of such travelers as Farnham or in letters sent back 
from the Oregon Country were eagerly read. For instance, 
the Cleveland Daily Herald of March 1, 1843, quoted from 
a letter written by Dr. Elijah White on August 17, 1842, 
while en route to Oregon. Dr. White gave good advice to 
those intending to migrate to Oregon. 

A typical editorial is the following which appeared in 
the Painesville, Ohio, Telegraph for May 24, 1843 : 

WESTWARD HO 

The tide of emigration flowing westward this season must be 
overwhelming. Besides the hundreds and thousands that daily throng 
the steamboats on the Lakes there is a constant stream of "movers" 
on land. From ten to fifteen teams have passed through this town 
every day for the last three weeks, winding their way to Wisconsin 
and Iowa, and some, we understand are bound for the "far west" 
which in these latter days means a country somewhere between the 
Rocky Mountains and sundown. Those we noticed had the appearance 
generally of intelligence, respectability and wealth and gave indica- 
tion of that enterprising and energetic character which alone takes 
upon itself the hardships and privations incident to the settlement 
of a new country. 3 

Several papers referred to "the Oregon fever." The 
Iowa Gazette declared: "The Oregon fever is raging in al- 



1 Boston Daily Evening Transcript, April 4, 1843. Since Whitman 
was in Boston at the time this appeared, it is possible that he had 
interviewed the editor. 

2 Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 8, 1843. 

3 I am indebted to Dr. F. C. Waite, of Cleveland, for this item. See 
also the Ohio Statesman, Mar. 14, 1843 ; Chillicothe Intelligencer, Mar. 
17, 1843; National Intelligencer, Wash., D. C., June 7, 1843; and 
O.H.Q,, 1903, p. 175. 



322 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

most every part of the Union. Companies are forming . . . 
will make a pretty formidable army. This, if nothing else, 
will compel Congress to act upon the matter." 4 

Such newspaper references are indicative of the wide- 
spread interest in Oregon which existed through the coun- 
try. Along the frontier, especially in Iowa and Missouri, 
the interest was keen. "The Oregon fever had broken out," 
and it was "Westward Ho" for the most daring and the 
most courageous. 

WHITMAN RETURNS TO RUSHVILLE 

Whitman remained in Boston for about ten days. He 
was restless to be on his way, for it had been his intention 
to get back to Westport soon after the first of May. It 
would have taken him, under normal traveling conditions 
then existing, about a month to travel from Boston to West- 
port. Every day he spent in Boston meant one day less that 
he could spend with his relatives and friends on his west- 
ward journey. Since the Prudential Committee of the Board 
met on April 8 and acted upon his requests, we are at a 
loss to understand why he tarried in Boston until the 8th 
of the month. 

While in Boston, Whitman had a silhouette made by a 
Mr. R. K. Cummings. He considered the result so unsatis- 
factory that he did not even get a copy for his mother. 5 All 
efforts to locate this silhouette have failed. Daguerreotypes 
were then being taken but the cheapest as then advertised 
in the papers cost $3.50. Whitman undoubtedly felt that 
this was more than he could afford. Somewhere along the 
line of travel, perhaps in New York or Philadelphia, a Rev. 
William Chester presented Whitman a copy of D'Aubigne's 
History of the Great Reformation, which is one of the few 
relics to survive the destruction which took place at the time 
of the massacre. 6 

The claim has been made that Whitman called on the 
Rev. Samuel Parker while he was East. 7 In view of the 
fact that Whitman was pressed for time and probably went 
to Rushville from Boston by a route divergent from Ithaca, 
it is hardly possible that such a visit was made. After 



4 Quoted by the Ohio Statesman, April 26, 1843. 

5 Mary Alice Wise-well to Myron Eells, Mar. 10, 1882, Coll. W. 

6 Coll. W. 

? W.C.Q., Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 23. 



"WESTWARD HO" 323 

Whitman was on his way back to Oregon, Parker wrote to 
Greene for information about Whitman. His letter was 
dated in June, 1843, and in it we read: "I had wished to 
have known something more definite about Doct Whitman ; 
his object of returning and prospects etc. I have heard from 
his brother in Rushville that he is on his way back to the 
station." 8 This letter implies that Parker had not seen 
Whitman. 

There was a railroad in the spring of 1843 which con- 
nected Boston with Buffalo. The trains averaged from fif- 
teen to twenty miles an hour. The fare from Boston to 
Albany, a distance of about two hundred miles, was adver- 
tised to be four dollars. A train leaving Boston at eight 
o'clock in the morning would not arrive in Albany until 
late that same evening. The trains did not run on Sunday. 

We do not know just when Whitman left Boston. Judg- 
ing from the letter he wrote to the United States Indian 
Bureau, he was in the city on Saturday, April 8. It is pos- 
sible that he did not leave until Monday, April 10, and that 
he then went by train as far west as Canandaigua where 
he could have taken a stage for Rushville. By this method 
he could have reached Rushville by Wednesday or Thursday 
of that week. If he traveled by stage, his progress would 
of necessity have been slower. We do not know with cer- 
tainty the date of Whitman's arrival in Rushville. It must 
have been sometime between April 12 and April 17. 9 

Only a few meager and scattered references are to be 
found regarding that visit which must have created consid- 
erable interest and excitement for the whole village. Mar- 
tha Wisewell, the daughter of Whitman's sister, Alice, wrote 
that the first indication her mother had of the presence of 
the doctor in the States was through reading the account 
of his visit with Horace Greeley. 10 Perrin Whitman claims 
that the doctor's mother gently rebuked her son for going 
to Boston first, and that Marcus replied: "Business before 
pleasure, mother, but I am here now to visit you." 11 Ac- 



8 Original or copy owned by L. Alex. Mack, New York. See also, 
Marshall, op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 310, for comment on this supposed visit. 

9 Information about trains furnished by Dr. F. C. Waite. The 
Cleveland Herald, April 15, 1843, advertises the fare from Boston to 
Albany as being $4.00. Perrin Whitman implies that Whitman had but 
three days to visit his relatives. W.H.Q., Vol. 2, No. 3, p. 138, and 
Eells, Marcus Whitman (Pamphlet), p. 13. 

10 Sunday School Times, Jan. 10, 1903. 

11 Portland Oregonian, Jan. 29, 1899. 



324 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

cording to a statement made by Frank Wisewell, a nephew, 
so great was the pressure of time that Dr. Whitman "spent 
only a single night under his mother's roof, and one night 
at his sister's home in Naples." 12 It is possible that Whit- 
man spent a night or so with other relatives in Rushville. 

Whitman spoke one evening in the Congregational 
church at Rushville. Among those present was a seventeen- 
year-old boy, James Clark Strong, the son of the Rev. Henry 
P. Strong, who had served as pastor of the Rushville church 
for about three years before his death on August 28, 1835. 13 
In later years James Clark Strong became a General in the 
United States Army. In his published autobiography, Gen- 
eral Strong gives an interesting account of Whitman's plea 
for Oregon and stated: "He described the Indians, the 
country and the climate so vividly that when he said he 
wanted to get as many as he could to go back with him to 
settle in the country, I asked him to take me, but he said 
he wanted only married men." 14 

Whitman no doubt expressed his appreciation for the 
twenty-five plows which had been sent by the people of 
Rushville in 1840. A collection which amounted to twelve 
dollars was received and turned over to Dr. Whitman. 
[Letter 131.] 

Another lad who was fascinated with the story of Ore- 
gon and who was attracted by Whitman's personality, was 
Perrin, the eldest son of Samuel Whitman, a younger 
brother of Marcus. When the doctor was on his way West 
in 1835, he visited in his brother's home at Danville, Illinois. 
Perrin was then five years old. Samuel Whitman returned 
with his family to Rushville in September, 1841. Mrs. 
Whitman died on September 29 of the following year, leav- 
ing her husband with four children, Perrin, the eldest, 
being but twelve years old. 

In later years Perrin told how his uncle's story of the 
midwinter ride filled him with wonder. "His personality 
captivated me," Perrin wrote. "He seemed to have drawn 
me by some power, for he at once began to plead with my 
father to gain his consent for me to accompany him on his 
return trip to Oregon." The difficult condition under which 
Samuel was laboring with four motherless children was an 



12 Naples (N. Y.) Record, Sept. 19, 1913. 

13 Strong, Biographical Sketch, p. 4. 
i* Ibid., p. 20. 



"WESTWARD HO" 325 

important factor in favor of Dr. Whitman's plan. No doubt 
Marcus remembered how he had been sent to live with 
relatives when he was a boy. Perrin wrote: 

My father reluctantly consented, after three days' pleading, that 
the doctor should adopt me and take me with him if I was willing 
to go. My boyish instincts were aroused, and with the promise of a 
gun, a saddle and a donkey, my consent was not delayed. Papers of 
adoption were made and filed. 15 

Since there was no provision in the law for legal adop- 
tion in New York State before 1873, it is probable that 
Marcus and Samuel drew up a contract similar to that used 
when a boy was hired out as an apprentice. A family tra- 
dition states that Samuel gave Marcus five hundred dollars 
to be invested for Perrin. Later this money was invested 
in horses and cattle. So it was arranged for Perrin to go 
to Oregon with his Uncle Marcus. Twenty-five years later, 
or in July, 1868, Perrin Whitman returned to New York 
State and visited his father and brothers. 16 

One of Whitman's nieces, Martha Wisewell, the daugh- 
ter of his sister, Alice, wrote the recollections of her uncle's 
visit to her home at Naples. Martha wrote : 

I remember standing opposite him in the room when he had a lasso 
in his hand. This he threw over my head and drew me up to him, to 
show the manner of catching animals in the West. And I have not 
forgotten how this frightened me 17 

While in the Wisewell home, Dr. Whitman had the oppor- 
tunity of becoming acquainted with a nephew who was 
born on May 23, 1838, and who was named Marcus Whit- 
man Wisewell. 

Whitman spoke in the Presbyterian church at Naples 
one evening, and those present indicated their interest in 
his work by pledging one hundred dollars to the cause. 18 
Most interesting to relate there was still living in the fall 



!5 W.H.Q., Vol. 2, pp. 138 ff. Also Spokesman-Review, Dec. 26, 1895. 

16 Some of Perrin Whitman's property was taken by the Govern- 
ment troops at the time of the Whitman Massacre. A claim was put 
in which was finally settled for $750, the check for which was received 
by his family the day after he died Jan. 27, 1899. The money was 
used to buy the tombstone to be seen today over his grave in the Lewis- 
ton, Idaho, cemetery. Samuel Whitman's Toll Book, recently discovered, 
has this item, p. 159: "July, 1868, Perrin B. Whitman came home 
to see me twenty five yrs. gone." Information by courtesy of R. E. 
Moody, Rushville, N. Y. 

17 S. S. Times, June 10, 1903. According to a statement in the 
Centennial Celebration, p. 36, Dr. Whitman left his heavy buffalo coat 
in Rushville. 

18 Information by kindness of Miss Caroline Housel, of Naples. 



326 MAECUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

of 1936, a woman who remembered Dr. Whitman's visit. 
Her name is Mrs. Eliza Ann Housel, and she was between 
eight and nine years old when Whitman visited Naples. 

According to two reports, Dr. Whitman spent a night 
in Prattsburg, where lived some of the relatives of Mrs. 
Whitman. 19 Undoubtedly Whitman also visited old friends 
at Wheeler. Whitman felt the necessity of returning at 
once to the frontier, so after a short visit of not more than 
five days at the most, left for the West. Perrin claims that 
they started for Oregon on April 20. 20 

Marcus found it most difficult to say goodbye to his 
mother, who worried about his safety and wanted him to 
stay longer. Among the recently discovered letters of Dr. 
Whitman is one written to his mother on May 27 from 
Westport, Missouri. This letter reveals his concern over 
the fact that his mother was not a professing Christian. 
Deep in his heart he knew her to be a wonderfully good 
woman, firm and true as ever a woman could be. But she 
was a woman of independent thought, and something had 
happened to cause her to lose sympathy with the organized 
church. While we have evidence that she sometimes at- 
tended church, we find no record that she ever joined. This 
failure to make a public confession of faith troubled her 
son Marcus, and he closed his letter of May 27 with a fer- 
vent appeal, to which reference was made in the first chapter 
of this book, for her to make a public confession of faith. 

After leaving Rushville for the last time, Whitman and 
his nephew went to West Almond in the adjoining county 
of Allegany to visit Jonas Galusha Prentiss, who owned a 
store there. In a letter written to Myron Eells on Novem- 
ber 18, 1883, Jonas referred to Dr. Whitman's eagerness 
to get him and others to go to Oregon. 21 Marcus wrote back 
to his brother-in-law on May 28, and made reference to a 
Government "secret service fund" which might be at the 
disposal of Oregon emigrants. 22 It is possible that Dr. White, 



19 F. Fay to S. W. Pratt, Feb. 26, 1902. Coll. Wn. F. Fay wrote: "I 
now distinctly remember hearing Mark Whitman tell my father that 
the authorities at Washington promised him nothing should be 
settled about the boundary until the matter had been thoroughly in- 
vestigated." See also, J. H. Hotchkin, Prattsburg News, April 10, 1890. 

20 Eells, Marcus Whitman (Pamphlet), p. 13. 

21 Original, Coll. W. 

22 Jason Lee had secured assistance from this fund for his Lausanne 
expedition to the extent of fifty dollars a passenger. Bancroft, Oregon, 
Vol. I, p. 177. 



"WESTWARD HO" 327 

who knew of such a fund, had talked to Whitman about it. 
White received some aid from this source in 1842. 

Jonas Galusha took Dr. Whitman and Perrin to Cuba, 
about thirty-five miles west of West Almond, where Whit- 
man visited his wife's parents. He there delivered the let- 
ters Narcissa had written to her parents and to the Rev. 
and Mrs. Asa S. Allen. 23 Narcissa's sisters Clarissa and 
Harriet were also living at Cuba. Clarissa was then mar- 
ried to Norman Kinney and was the mother of a four-year- 
old son. Harriet was married to John Jackson. 24 Whitman 
did his best to get the Kinneys and the Jacksons to go to 
Oregon. 

Dr. Whitman's visit was all too short for Narcissa's 
satisfaction. Writing to her sister more than a year later, 
Narcissa declared: "My husband's visit was very short, 
too much so to gain all the information I was in hopes he 
would bring me." [Letter 155.] When Dr. Whitman 
started for Oregon, he carried with him a number of letters 
and small gifts for his wife from her relatives and friends 
in the East. In a letter written to Mrs. Lydia Porter on 
May 18, 1844, Narcissa referred to the joy which such 
remembrances had brought to her. She mentioned receiv- 
ing a book entitled The Pastor's Wife, which her friend 
David Malin had sent. 

BACK TO WESTPORT 

While we have very little evidence to indicate the route 
Whitman and his nephew took on the return trip, it seems 
probable that they went by stage through northern Ohio to 
Cleveland, and then to Cincinnati, where passage could have 
been secured on a river steamer for St. Louis. Perrin Whit- 
man once stated that they went by way of Olean, New York, 
and "by the Allegheny and Ohio and Mississippi Rivers." 25 

In a letter written by B. F. Whitman, a grandson of 
Whitman's uncle, Freedom Whitman, we read: 



23 Allen was pastor of the Cuba church 1837-46. We have no evi- 
dence to show that Narcissa ever met either Mr. Allen or his wife. Her 
letter was one of general interest. 

24 Binney, Genealogy of Prentiss Family, p. 75. The Jacksons later 
settled at Oberlin, Ohio. Clarissa's son was killed in Oregon in 1855. 
Clarissa is reported to have moved to San Francisco where Elizabeth 
Sager Helm saw her. See her letter in Yates County, N. Y., Chronicle, 
Mar. 18, 1914. 

25 Marshall, op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 301. Marshall quoted indirectly from 
Perrin. There was no boat traffic on the Allegheny River. 



328 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

I have heard from my mother of a visit of Marcus Whitman to my 
father in this city in 1843, when Dr. Whitman was on his way west 
to organize the first wagon train to cross the Rocky Mountains, at 
which time he spent a day and a night here, at our home, almost per- 
suading my father to join the new enterprise. 26 

If Whitman and his nephew took only the day stages, they 
could have reached Cleveland in four days after leaving 
Cuba. Allowing a day or so for a visit with relatives at 
Chester, Ohio, Whitman and his nephew could have reached 
Cleveland by the 27th or 28th of April. Since they reached 
St. Louis about May 6, this means that they left Cincinnati 
on or about May 3. 27 

Upon arriving in St. Louis, Whitman was again a guest 
in the home of his dentist friend, Dr. Edward Hale, 28 and 
while there Dr. Whitman had a tooth filled with gold. Per- 
rin stood by, seriously watching the first dentistry he had 
ever seen. Years later he was able to identify his uncle's 
skull by that gold-filled tooth. 29 

Finding that he had some extra time, Whitman went to 
Quincy, Illinois, where he enjoyed a visit with Jane Prentiss. 
Edward Prentiss happened to be absent at the time. It is 
interesting to note that one of the founders of the Mission 
Institute at Quincy, in which Jane served as a teacher, was 
the Rev. Moses Hunter, once pastor of the Presbyterian 
church at Angelica. The principal was the Rev. William 
Beardsley, once principal of Franklin Academy at Pratts- 
burg. 30 

Dr. Whitman was sorry to have missed Edward. On 
On May 27 he wrote to his brother-in-law from the Shaw- 
nee mission school and gave the following advice: 

I suppose you think yourself a man now, and perhaps are not 
anxious for advice. I will venture, however, to let you know how 
anxious I am for you to complete your education. Entering the min- 
istry a year or two sooner will not avail for any good purpose. We 
ought to aim at the greatest usefulness. 



26 Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 7, 1895. By courtesy of the Rev. 
W. F. Whitman, of Nashotah, Wisconsin, who sent the item to Dr. P. 
C. Waite, of Cleveland, who sent it to the author. 

27 Talbot, a member of Fremont's expedition of 1843, left Cincin- 
nati on May 4 and reached St. Louis on the 7th. See his journal, p. 3. 

28 Hale was one of the first three early dentists in St. Louis who 
remained any length of time. He stopped practice in 1864. 

2 W.C.Q., Vol. 2, No. 3, p. 36. Also Delaney, Whitman Massacre, 
p. 45. 

30 General Congregational Association of Illinois, pp. 115 ff., has 
information relating to the Mission Institute of Quincy. 



"WESTWARD HO" 329 

While in St. Louis, Whitman bought a copy of De Smet's 
Indian Sketches, which seemed to have made a deep im- 
pression upon him, for he recommended the book to Greene, 
to Jonas Galusha, and to his brother Augustus. To Jonas 
he wrote: "You will see what way the Society of Jesus 
do their missionary work and what we have to content with 
in Oregon." [Letter 135.] De Smet was a pioneer Roman 
Catholic missionary to Oregon, who then happened to be 
in Europe seeking for more workers and money for his 
mission. 

Whitman wrote to Greene on May 12 while in St. Louis 
and reported that he had found it impracticable to attempt 
to take any families with him that year, except those who 
were expecting to go. This is an acknowledgment that he 
had not succeeded in finding any "pious settlers" who would 
emigrate to Oregon with the intention of settling near the 
mission stations. The only one whom Whitman succeeded 
in persuading to do this was Perrin, a thirteen-year-old boy. 
Yet Whitman had not dropped the idea and in this letter 
to Greene stated : "It is requisite that more good pious men 
& Ministers go to Oregon without delay as Citizens or our 
hope there is greatly clouded if not destroyed." 

Greene replied to this letter on July 21, 1843, and asked 
Whitman if it were not possible for him to find some good 
men "in that great company" who might be relied upon 
for employment at the mission station. Thus Greene gave 
his approval to a practice which Whitman followed there- 
after. Greene wrote: "When we shall be able to send you 
out any helpers I do not know." 

It is quite possible that Whitman saw Colonel John Fre- 
mont and members of his expedition in St. Louis, for Talbot 
states that Fremont was in the city on May 7. The expe- 
dition did not embark for Westport until Saturday, May 
13, and in all probability Dr. Whitman and his nephew were 
on the same boat. Fremont reached Westport on May 18. 
This is about the time that Whitman arrived. 

W. H. Gray claimed that "Fremont was sent here at the 
request of Dr M Whitman ... to protect the emigration of 
1843 to explore the country & report its value." 31 No con- 
temporary document has been discovered to support such 
a claim. 32 It is possible that Whitman requested troops to 

31 Myron Eells to J. M. Vale, July 20, 1885, Coll. W. 

32 An unsuccessful search has been made in the files of the War 
Department for the original order which sent Fremont on his second 
expedition. 



330 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

protect the emigrants, but others had made the same re- 
quest. On March 25, 1843, J. M. Shively, of St. Louis, sent 
a letter to Washington in which he asked for a company 
of troops to escort his party to Oregon. 33 However, Fre- 
mont's expedition did not accompany the 1843 emigration, 
but followed it. The presence of these troops may have 
exercised a subduing effect upon the Indians. 

THE EMIGRANTS GATHER 

Because of the unusual lateness of the season, the emi- 
grants did not start until the last of May, and Whitman 
found that he was on hand nearly three weeks too early. 
He regretted that he had hurried on after being with his 
relatives and friends so short a time. "I might about as 
well have been three weeks later," he wrote his mother, 
"but as I could not know before hand, it was better to be 
safe." [Letter 134.] Incidentally, this letter proves that 
Whitman felt no special responsibility in getting up or or- 
ganizing the emigration of 1843. 

As soon as there was sufficient grass to give pasturage 
to livestock, the emigrants for Oregon began to assemble 
at a rendezvous about twelve miles west of Independence, 
Missouri, and just over the state line. Peter Burnett, who 
was a prominent member of the emigration, arrived there 
on May 17. He states in his journal that a meeting was 
held by the emigrants on the 18th and a committee appoint- 
ed to see Dr. Whitman. Another committee was appointed 
to inspect wagons and a third to draw up rules and regula- 
tions to govern the group on the journey. 34 

A question much discussed was regarding the possibility 
of taking wagons through to the Columbia River Valley. 
There were many who said it could not be done. The New 
Era of St. Louis of May 25, 1843, carried two columns of 
fine print containing a letter of P. L. Edwards, dated Sep- 
tember 15, 1842, in which Edwards stated his belief that 
wagons could not be taken into the Columbia River Valley 
and that the emigrants should make their plans accord- 
ingly. 35 J. W. Nesmith, also a prominent member of the 
emigration, wrote: "Dr. Whitman was persistent in his 



33 O.H.Q., June, 1903, p. 172. 

34 Burnett, Recollections of a Pioneer, p. 101. Also T.O.P.A., 1875, 
pp. 42 if., for Nesmith's account. 

35 Eells, Reply to Bourne, p. 110. Edwards was a member of the 
Methodist mission who had gone to Oregon with Lee in 1834. 



"WESTWARD HO" 331 

asserting that wagons could proceed as far as the Grand 
Dalles of the Columbia river, from which point he asserted 
they could be taken down by rafts or batteaux to the Wil- 
lamette valley." 36 

On May 20 another meeting was held among the emi- 
grants at Fitzhugh's mill to complete the organization. Dr. 
Whitman was present and met many of the men, although 
some of the members of that emigration did not hear about 
Dr. Whitman until they were along the Platte. This fact 
is not surprising, because most of the men were strangers 
to one another, having come from widely separated places 
in the States. Since there were about one thousand people 
altogether, it naturally took some time for them to know 
each other. 87 Another difficulty in this respect was the fact 
that the company divided into two parts until after they 
reached Fort Hall, and then, feeling free of any danger 
from hostile Indians, they divided into smaller units. 

Captain John Gantt, a former army officer and a moun- 
tain man, was engaged to serve as pilot as far as Fort Hall, 
and it was agreed that all should be ready to start by Mon- 
day, May 22. On that day most, if not all, of the emigrants 
moved fifteen miles west to Elm Grove, where they camped. 
Burnett gives an interesting description of that encamp- 
ment. The grove was then reduced to but two elm trees 
and a few dogwoods. Burnett wrote: 

The place where we encamped was very beautiful; and no scene 
appeared to our enthusiastic vision more exquisite than the sight of 
so many wagons, tents, fires, cattle, and people, as were here collected. 
At night the sound of joyous music was heard in the tents. Our long 
journey thus begun in sunshine and song, in anecdote and laughter; 
but these all vanished before we reached its termination. 38 

The emigration continued on its way, reaching the Kan- 
sas River on the 31st. Whitman tarried behind the emi- 
gration. When he wrote to Edward Prentiss on May 27, 
he dated his letter from the Shawnee mission school. We 
have extant four of his letters written from that place, the 
last of which was dated May 30. The mission station was 



30 T.O.P.A., 1875, pp. 42 ff. 

37 Authorities differ as to the number of people in this emigration. 
Nesmith claimed that a roll made May 20, 1843, of the men capable of 
bearing arms, including all over 16, numbered 295. T.O.P.A., 1875, p. 
48. Nineveh Ford (MS., Coll. Wn.) claims the emigration numbered 
900. McClane listed 999. See Bancroft, Oregon, Vol. 1, p. 395. 

38 Burnett, op. cit., p. 101. 



332 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

established by the Methodists in 1830, and was then located 
about nine miles west of Westport. 

Writing to his mother on the 27th, Marcus said that his 
health was good and that he had lost ten pounds since 
being in Rushville. The next day in his letter to Jonas 
Galusha he reported that though the main body of the emi- 
grants had started about a week previous, stragglers were 
even then passing by. He said that Fremont was camped 
about two miles away. Whitman was disappointed in that 
no sheep were taken, but was much encouraged to see how 
many people were on the road. "It is now decided," he 
wrote, "that Oregon will be occupied by American citizens. 
Those who go only open the way for more another year." 
[Letter 135.] 

On the 30th, Whitman wrote another letter to Greene, 
in which he stated his intention to start the next day. Re- 
ferring to the money he had drawn, he said that he used 
it to complete buying his outfit and to pay what he owed 
to a Spaniard "who came in with me from Taos." Whitman 
repossessed the animals which he had left at Westport the 
preceding February. 

Whitman and his nephew left the Shawnee mission on 
Thursday, June 1, and spent that night with the Fremont 
party. Talbot wrote the following in his journal about their 
visitor : 

Dr. Whitman, the Baptist Missionary established at Wallawallah 
on the Columbia, was our guest tonight. He is behind the main body 
of emigrants, but can of course easily overtake them. He expresses 
much anxiety for their safe journey, and is determined to do all in 
his power to assist them, a promise of much value, as well from his 
practical good sense as his general knowledge of the route. 39 

Whitman took little baggage besides his blankets and 
personal effects. Daniel Waldo, who went to Oregon that 
year, wrote: 

I fed him the first part of the road. He had nothing to start with 
but a boiled ham. ... I reckon he expected that ham to last him and 
his boy all the way across. After we crossed the Snake River we had 
to feed him again. I did not like it much. But he was a very energetic 
man and I liked his perseverance. He had not much judgment but 
a great deal of perseverance. He expected the emigrants to feed him 
and they did. 4 



39 Talbot, op. clt., p. 9. Of course Talbot was mistaken about Whit- 
man's being a Baptist missionary. 

40 Original MS., in Bancroft Coll., U. of C., Berkeley. Partly re- 
printed in Bancroft, Oregon, Vol. 1, p. 405. 



"WESTWARD HO" 333 

Perhaps Whitman expected to live on wild game as he 
had done when he crossed in 1835 and 1836. However, the 
buffalo were scarce along the way in 1843, so that the 
emigrants were obliged to live on the provisions they took 
or kill some of their cattle. A member of the emigration 
wrote a letter on June 3, 1843, published in the July 8 issue 
of the Iowa Gazette, in which we read the following : 

There are over 3,000 and perhaps 5,000 head of cattle, mules and 
horses attached to the company. Captain Applegate has over 200 head, 
and others over 100 head. 

The presence of so many cattle became a bone of con- 
tention because those without cattle did not want to help 
guard or drive them, and they wanted to move faster than 
the cattle could go. Therefore the emigrants divided into 
two main groups after crossing the Big Blue River in what 
is now the state of Kansas. The group with the cattle was 
called the "Cow Column." Dr. Whitman seems to have 
remained with this group most of the way across the prai- 
ries. He then pushed on ahead, and by the time they left 
Fort Hall, he was in the lead. 

The emigration consisted of a fine type of people. The 
Liberty Banner of Clay County, Missouri, described the men 
as being of "fine intelligence and vigorous and intrepid 
character, admirably calculated to lay the firm foundations 
of a future empire. 41 The emigrants learned before their 
journey was over that oxen were better than horses to pull 
the heavily loaded covered wagons, of which there were 
about 125. 42 

"TRAVEL, TRAVEL, TRAVEL" 

Instead of going up along the Missouri to the mouth 
of the Platte, as the mission party of 1836 had done, the 
emigrants of 1843 cut across what is now the northeastern 
part of Kansas and southwestern Nebraska and did not 
strike the south branch of the South Fork of the Platte until 
about the first of July. Wagon boxes were covered with 
skins and made into boats. It was about this time that Dr. 
Whitman overtook the main body of the emigrants. He 
rendered valiant service in aiding them to cross the river.. 

Dr. Whitman insisted on constant travel. When the 
spirit of song had left even the young, and they were willing 



41 Reprinted in the National Intelligencer, June 6, 1843, and the 
Globe (Wash., D. C.) June 8, 1843. 

42 Perrin Whitman's estimate, W.C.Q., Vol. 2, No. 2, p. 33. See also 
Bancroft, Oregon, Vol. 1, p. 395. 



334 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

to remain in camp and rest, it was Dr. Whitman who urged 
them to keep moving. Perrin Whitman said: "He never 
allowed them to stay two nights in one place. Kept them 
moving every day, if it was only for a little way, so as to 
change grass for the stock. 43 Jesse Applegate in the fol- 
lowing statement stressed the same fact : 

From the time he joined us on the Platte until he left us at Fort 
Hall, his great experience and indomitable energy were of priceless 
value to the migrating column. His constant advice, which we knew 
was based upon a knowledge of the road before us was "travel, travel, 
TRAVEL". . . nothing else will take you to the end of your journey ; 
nothing is wise that does not help you along. Nothing is good for 
you that causes a moment's delay. 44 

Col. J. W. Nesmith described Whitman in these words : 
"He was of a powerful physical organization, and possessed 
a great and good heart, full of charity and courage, and 
utterly destitute of cant, hypocrisy, shams and effeminancy, 
and always terribly in earnest." Nesmith likewise pays 
tribute to Whitman's services: 

While with us he was clad entirely in buckskin, and rode one of 
those patient long-eared animals said to be "without pride of ancestry 
or hope of posterity." The Doctor spent much of his time in hunting 
out the best route for the wagons, and would plunge into streams in 
search of practical fords, regardless of the depth or temperature of 
the water, and sometimes after the fatigue of a hard day's march, 
would spend much of the night in going from one part to another to 
minister to the sick. 45 

Jesse Applegate also refers to Whitman's services as a 
doctor. He tells of how one day a wagon swung out of the 
wagon train and stopped. Dr. Whitman had been riding 
beside the wagon for some time. A tent was pitched and a 
fire kindled. The other wagons passed by, people in them 
wondering what was wrong and wondering why one fam- 
ily should pause on the line of march to make camp. The 
emigrant train continued, leaving the lone covered wagon 
far in the rear, but here is Applegate's description: 

There are anxious watchers for the absent wagon, for there are 
many matrons who may be afflicted like its inmate before the journey 
is over ; and they fear the strange and startling practice of this Ore- 
gon doctor. But as the sun goes down, the absent wagon rolls into 
camp, the bright, speaking face and cheery look of the doctor, who 



4 3 W.C.Q., op. cit., p. 35. 

44 Applegate, "A Day with the Cow Column in 1843," T.O.P.A., 
1876. 

T.O.P.A., 1880, p. 22. 



"WESTWARD HO" 335 

rides in advance, declare without words that all is well, and both 
mother and child are comfortable. 46 

Applegate stated that the successful delivery of the child 
to the emigrant mother firmly established Dr. Whitman's 
reputation and gave confidence to the whole group. He 
called Dr. Whitman a "noble and devoted man" and added 
this tribute : "... and it is no disparagement to others to 
say, that to no other individual are the emigrants of 1843 
so much indebted for the successful conclusion of their 
journey as to Dr. Marcus Whitman." He also gave this 
incident of the trail, which occurred at the end of the day 
when the first baby of the 1843 emigration was born. The 
doctor was at the tent of the pilot with whom he lived. 
Many of the men of the column were gathered around 
"listening to his wise and energetic counsel." To one side 
sits the pilot, "quietly smoked his pipe, for he knows the 
brave doctor is 'strengthening his hands.' " 

The question of food supplies became acute before the 
journey was over. At first the people threw away scraps 
of food, as bacon rinds, and were generous in inviting 
others to eat with them. But they soon learned that every- 
thing, even the rinds of the bacon, had to be conserved. 
Captain Gantt killed an old buffalo bull on June 15. The 
wantonness on the part of hunters who had slaughtered 
the shaggy beasts of the prairies for the thrill of killing 
was already beginning to tell in the reduced herds. 

Toward the end of June plenty of fresh buffalo meat 
was secured, and once the emigrants saw a herd estimated 
to contain three thousand head plunge over a twenty-foot 
embankment into the Platte. Scores of them fell and were 
trampled by the others or were drowned in the river. 47 S. 
M. Gilmore, who went out to Oregon that year, wrote back 
from Fort Vancouver on November 11, 1843, and gave the 
following advice to those who expected to go over the Ore- 
gon Trail: 

You should bring 200 pounds of flour, 100 pounds of bacon, for 
every member of the family that can eat, besides other provisions. 
Make no calculation on getting buffalo or other wild meat, for you are 
only wasting time and killing horses and mules to get it. Have your 
wagon beds made in such a manner that they can be used for boats; 
you will find them of great service in crossing streams have your 



46 Applegate, op. cit., p. 63. 

47 Lennox, Overland to Oregon, p. 33. Lennox was also a member 
of this emigration. 



336 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

wagons well covered, so they will not leak, or your provisions and 
clothes will spoil. 48 

The light column, traveling before the cow column, 
reached Fort Laramie on July 14. Burnett claims that he 
found the following food prices at the Fort: "Coffee, $1.50 
a pint; brown sugar, the same; flour, unbolted, 25 cents 
a pound; powder, $1.50 a pound; lead, 75 cents a pound; 
percussion caps, $1.50 a box; calico, very inferior, $1.00 a 
yard." 49 

The Laramie River was high with the waters of melting 
snows. It could not be forded, so the wagon boxes had to 
be used as boats. Waldo claimed: "No one was willing 
to risk himself in swimming the river and carrying the 
line but Dr. Whitman, which he did successfully." 50 We 
marvel at the amazing endurance of the man, and praise 
his willingness to serve. 

On July 20, while at "Bigbute Creek, 100 miles west of 
Laramie's Fork," Marcus received the letter which Narcissa 
had written on May 18. Therein he learned for the first 
time of the burning of the mill and of Dr. White's endeavor 
to establish laws among the Cayuses. As he read Narcissa's 
remark that the Cayuses were "like sheep without a shep- 
herd," he was all the more eager to get back. He also 
learned that Spalding and Geiger had sent the pack train 
with provisions to meet the emigration. Whitman added 
a note to his wife's letter and sent it to Greene with some 
messenger who was returning to St. Louis. Fearing that 
Greene might be concerned about the loss of the mill, Whit- 
man wrote optimistically: "I am in no way solicitous for 
the loss of the Mill or on account of the excitement & hope 
no change will be made in the Mission & that you will be 
able to reinforce us next year." 

Whitman pushed on ahead of the light column and 
learned of a new way from the Continental Divide to Fort 
Hall, which he recommended to those behind him. The 
party with whom Peter Burnett traveled crossed the divide 
on the 5th, 6th, and 7th of August. Burnett wrote: "On 
the 12th of August we were informed that Doctor Whitman 
had written a letter, stating that the Catholic missionaries 
had discovered, by the aid of their Flathead Indian pilot, 



O.H.Q., 1903, p. 282. 

49 Burnett, op. cit., p. 112. His recollections dealing with the trail 
were reprinted in the O.H.Q., March, 1904. 

50 Quoted by Eells, Marcus Whitman, p. 215. 



"WESTWARD HO" 337 

a pass through the mountains by way of Fort Bridger, 
which was shorter than the old route." 51 Burnett's party 
arrived at Fort Bridger on Blacks Fork of the Green River 
on August 14, and reached Fort Hall on the 27th. This 
route was not only shorter than that which the Whitman- 
Spalding party followed in 1836, but was evidently much 
better for the wagons. 

At Fort Hall, Whitman met Captain Grant, in charge 
of that post, and received further information about Mrs. 
Whitman. Grant had escorted Mrs. Whitman from Wasko- 
pum to Fort Walla Walla with the Hudson's Bay express 
early in April of that year. Lennox reports that Whitman 
received a letter from his wife on August 28 which con- 
tained the plea : "Do hurry home." 52 

WAGONS WEST 

A critical situation arose at Fort Hall when Captain 
Grant advised the emigrants to leave their wagons and cattle 
there and complete the journey on horseback as the mem- 
bers of the 1842 emigration had done. He showed them the 
abandoned vehicles and told them that he felt it was im- 
possible to take wagons the remainder of the way. Grant 
had always traveled the trail by horseback and seems to 
have been sincere in the advice given. Adherents of the 
Whitman-Saved-Oregon story maintain that Grant saw the 
significance of a wagon road to Oregon and was doing his 
best to prevent the accomplishment of that objective. 

Burnett wrote : "I consulted Mr. Grant as to his opinion 
of the practicability of taking our wagons through. He 
replied that, while he would not say it was impossible for 
us Americans to make the trip in our wagons, he could 
not himself see how it could be done." When Perrin Whit- 
man heard Captain Grant give such advice, he reported 
the situation to his uncle, who gathered some of the emi- 
grants together and reassured them that wagons could be 
taken through. 53 J. B. McClane, also a member of the 1843 
emigration, told Bancroft that Whitman was persistent in 
this claim. 54 

It is hard to imagine the disaster which would have 



51 O.H.Q., March, 1904, p. 76. 

52 W.C.Q., Vol. 2, No. 2, p. 31. 

53 W.C.Q., Vol. 2, No. 2, p. 35. 

54 McClane, MS., Bancroft Coll. 



338 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

overtaken the party if Grant's advice had prevailed. There 
were many women and children in the 1843 party. Nesmith 
claimed that they did not have enough horses to carry all 
of them. He wrote : "Had we followed Grant's advice, and 
abandoned the cattle and wagons at Fort Hall, much suf- 
fering must have ensued . . . besides, wagons and cattle were 
indispensable to men expecting to live by farming in a 
country destitute of such articles." 55 After considerable 
debate, the emigrants decided to follow Whitman's advice. 
This decision had far-reaching effects, for the Oregon emi- 
gration movement would have received a serious blow if 
word had been carried back to the States that the members 
of the 1843 emigration had found it necessary to abandon 
their wagons and cattle at Fort Hall. 

It is assumed that Whitman found some of the supplies 
sent by Spalding and Geiger at Fort Hall. These he could 
have sold without difficulty to the emigrants. At Fort Hall 
the emigrants hired Dr. Whitman to be their pilot for the 
remainder of the distance. Lennox claimed that a purse of 
four hundred dollars was raised and given to Dr. Whitman 
for this service. 56 There was no attempt at organization 
within the emigration after reaching Fort Hall. Individual 
groups pushed on as fast as they could. Whitman with a 
few others, including John Ricord, Nimrod Ford, A. L. 
Love joy, and Perrin, formed a small party to blaze the way. 
Writing to Greene on November 1, Whitman said : 

My journey across the mountains was very much prolonged by the 
necessity for me to pilot the emigrants. I tried in vain to come ahead 
at different points, but found it would be at the risk of disaster to the 
emigrants of having to leave their wagons without the possibility of 
obtaining sufficient number of horses to take any considerable part 
of their families and necessary food and clothing. 

In the vicinity of the present city of American Falls, 
Idaho, the trail branched. The main trail followed the Snake 
River, while a branch led to California. Here sixteen men, 
including Captain Gantt, left for California. The Snake 
River was crossed at Salmon Falls, where one of the emi- 
grants, Miles Eyres, whom Whitman met in St. Louis and 
encouraged to go to Oregon, was drowned. Eyres had all 
of his money in a belt around his waist, and since his body 
was not recovered, his family was left almost destitute. 
They spent the winter of 1843-44 with the Whitmans at 



55 Eells, Reply to Bourne, p. 112. 

56 W.C.Q., Vol. 2, No. 2, p. 30. Also Lennox, op. cit., p. 17. 



"WESTWARD HO" 339 

Waiilatpu, being among the first of many unfortunate vic- 
tims of the Oregon Trail to seek the hospitality of the mis- 
sion station. 

By September 20, some of the emigrants reached Fort 
Boise, where they were kindly received by Francis Payette, 
Hudson's Bay trader in charge. While the emigrants had 
some difficulty in getting their wagons across the desert, 
yet the hardest part of the journey lay before them in the 
Blue Mountains. Since it was getting late in the season, 
Dr. Whitman urged the group not to tarry. With a few 
friends in a light wagon, Whitman continued his way ahead 
of the main body of the emigrants. 

While in the Grande Ronde Valley, Whitman received 
a letter carried by an Indian messenger from the Rev. El- 
kanah Walker, written from Lapwai. Both Mr. and Mrs. 
Spalding were critically ill with scarlet fever. Believing 
that he was about to die, Spalding sent word to Geiger and 
to Walker and Eells asking them to come to attend his 
funeral. Geiger reached Lapwai on September 14 and 
Walker arrived on the 15th. Feeling certain that Whitman 
was nearly back, Walker sent a message to him urging him 
to come at once to Lapwai. 

Whitman turned the care of the emigrants over to faith- 
ful Stickus, and left at once for Lapwai. He arrived there 
on September 25. He found the Spaldings on their way 
to recovery, but their children were ill with the same dis- 
ease. He stayed at Lapwai but one night and left on Tues- 
day, September 26, for his own station. [Letter 142.] He 
felt the necessity of getting back to Waiilatpu and making 
some preparations for the emigrants. Writing to Greene 
on November 1, Whitman said in regard to Spalding : "He 
has expressed a much better state of feeling towards the 
members of the mission and the Board since his sickness, 
the reception of your letter and my return, than ever be- 
fore." Contemporaneous documents do not indicate any 
further friction between Whitman and Spalding during the 
remaining years of the mission. 

Whitman reached his station perhaps on Thursday, Sep- 
tember 28. Since Geiger had been called to Lapwai, only 
an Indian remained in charge of Waiilatpu. Whitman dis- 
covered that some of the advance parties of the emigrants 
had arrived and had broken into the mission house and 
then left it open to the Indians. Whitman was provoked 



340 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

over this, for there was an abundance of garden vegetables 
and other food outside. 

In the meantime the main body of the emigrants led by 
Stickus, who could speak little or no English, was crossing 
the Blue Mountains. Nesmith wrote that Stickus was "a 
faithful old fellow ... he succeeded by pantomime in tak- 
ing us over the roughest wagon route I ever saw." Nesmith 
also has the following incident to relate : 

I once dined with Sticus, in his camp, upon what I supposed to be 
elk meat. I had arrived at that conclusion because, looking at the 
cooked meat and then at the old Indian interrogatively, he held up his 
hands in a manner that indicated elk horns; but, after dinner, seeing 
the ears, tail, and hoofs of a mule near camp, I became satisfied that 
what he meant to convey by his pantomime was "ears" not "horns." 27 

While Whitman was buried in work trying to get ready 
for the emigrants, an urgent message arrived from Tshi- 
makain. Mrs. Eells was expecting to give birth to a child, 
and Dr. Whitman was needed. So after but a day or so at 
Waiilatpu, Whitman mounted his horse again and started 
for the Tshimakain station 140 miles to the north. 

When Mr. Walker returned to his home from Lapwai, 
he told his wife and Mr. and Mrs. Eells of Whitman's re- 
turn. Mrs. Walker noted in her journal: "Dr. Whitman 
. . . has brought no reinforcement but expects one next 
year." Evidently the members of the mission were disap- 
pointed that his trip East seemed to be so fruitless. By 
hard riding Whitman was able to reach Tshimakain late 
either Sunday night, October 1, or on the following night. 
The babe was not born until late on the evening of the 6th. 
He was called Myron (1843-1907), and in later years be- 
came the outstanding champion of the Whitman-Saved- 
Oregon story. 

During those five or six days of waiting at Tshimakain, 
Whitman was restless. He was constantly thinking of the 
emigrants streaming by Waiilatpu needing food, medical 
attention, and advice. He wanted to start back. Moreover 
he had the natural desire to see his wife as soon as possible. 
It was extremely irritating for him to wait. Mrs. Walker 
wrote in her journal on the 6th: "Dr. W. very uneasy, re- 
grets he came so soon." Mrs. Walker tried to make him as 
comfortable as possible. Her own children then had the 
scarlet fever. She filled a straw tick with new straw from 



57 T.O.P.A., 1875, p. 48. 



"WESTWARD HO" 341 

the freshly threshed oats, corded a bedstead, and placed it 
in what she called "the study" for her guest. 

At noon after the babe was born, or on Saturday, Oc- 
tober 7, Whitman started back to Waiilatpu. Even though 
he was in a hurry, he rested on Sunday and did not get to 
his station until about eight o'clock Tuesday evening, Oc- 
tober 10. He found that the main body of the emigrants 
had already passed. Geiger had been there to minister to 
their needs. "All came in their turns," wrote Whitman to 
Greene, "and were supplied with provisions." [Letter 142.] 

Later Whitman was criticized for the high prices he 
charged for provisions. Burnett wrote in his defense : 

This foolish, false, and ungrateful charge was based upon the fact 
that he asked us a dollar a bushel for wheat, and forty cents for 
potatoes. As our people had been accustomed to sell their wheat at 
from fifty to sixty cents a bushel, and their potatoes at from twenty 
to twenty-five cents, in the Western States, they thought the prices 
demanded by the doctor amounted to something like extortion, not 
reflecting that he had to pay at least twice as much for his own sup- 
plies of merchandise, and could not afford to sell his produce as low 
as they did theirs at home. 58 

Burnett stated that some felt so deeply about the high 
prices Whitman charged that they refused to buy and as 
a result ran out of food before they got to the Willamette 
Valley and were obliged to borrow from others. 

About a year and a half later, when Dr. Whitman was 
in Oregon City, he met Dr. White on the street. Hearing 
that White had repeated the criticisms, Whitman asked 
for an explanation. The following account of the contro- 
versy has been left for us : 

I was present in Oregon City, some time in the month of June, 
1845, when Dr. Whitman and Dr. White had what you might call a 
public controversy. Dr. White from a sectarian jealousy, had written 
a letter to some of the eastern papers, charging Whitman with mis- 
using immigrants. Dr. Whitman came down and happened to meet 
Dr. White in Oregon City, when they had a dispute. Dr. White pro- 
posed to establish what he had said, so a meeting for a public investi- 
gation was called at the Red House. Dr. White called Mr. Geiger, who 
still lives in Oregon City, as his first witness. 



58 Burnett, Recollections, p. 127. In White's report of Nov. 15, 1843, 
(now in Old Indian Files, Wash., D. C.) we read: "The Presbyterian 
Mission however for the first time have fallen very heavily under 
censure from the immigrating party this fall, from the fact princi- 
pally as I understand of their exacting most exorbitant prices for 
supplies of provisions. I have only ex-parte statements, which known 

if but half true they deserve the just retrobation of mankind " 

Miss Allen omitted this when editing her book, Ten Years in Oregon. 



342 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

When asked to state how Dr. Whitman had treated the immigrants, 
Mr. Geiger told a very different story than White had counted on. 
Instead of telling how Dr. Whitman had misused them, he told of his 
many kindnesses to them, and what a friend he had always been to 
them. When White saw that the tables were turned against him by 
his own witnesses, he jumped up and said : "Mr, Geiger, you can take 
your seat, sir; I will acknowledge that you can outlie me." He failed 
to prove a single allegation that he had made, so the investigation 
proved to be a great triumph for Dr. Whitman. 59 

Others criticized Whitman because of his terms in the 
trading of their worn-out cattle for his fresh fat animals. 
Daniel Waldo said : 

Whitman lied to me like hell at Waiilatpu. He wanted my cattle 
and told me the grass was all burnt between his place and the Dalles. 
I told him I would try it anyhow. The first night I left the Dalles I 
found the finest grass I ever saw, and it was good every night. He 
did not try to buy mine, but he did try to buy others. 60 

Lennox wrote in a less critical spirit and said: "My 
father found it necessary to get new oxen, ours were so 
worn out, so we traded our five oxen for two fresh ones with 
Mr. Geiger, working our cows to make out a full team." 61 
McClane also refers to Whitman's trading fat steers, some 
weighing fifteen hundred pounds, for two head of the emi- 
grants' cattle, but McClane did not criticize what he evi- 
dently thought was a fair transaction. 

According to several witnesses, Dr. Whitman frequently 
extended credit, and there were many cases where he was 
never paid or was unjustly criticized. In this respect his 
experience was similar to that of Dr. John McLoughlin, who 
likewise extended credit to some of the emigrants who failed 
to appreciate such courtesies. 62 Whitman sold so much of 
his produce that he was obliged to call upon Spalding to 
furnish him supplies for the winter. [Letter 142.] He sold 
beef, pork, potatoes, wheat, and corn. He settled with Gei- 
ger at the rate of thirty dollars a month and secured the 
services of Mr. Littlejohn in his place. 

Most of the emigrants went overland to The Dalles, 
where they secured boats or made rafts to carry themselves, 
their wagons, and their equipment the rest of the way down 
the river. The cattle and horses were driven through the 



69 B. F. Nichols in W.C.Q., Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 33-34. 
eo Waldo MS., Bancroft Coll. 
61 Lennox, op. cit., p. 54. 

<See McClane MS., Bancroft Coll.; W.C.Q., Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 33, 
and Vol. 2, No. 2, p. 37; Bancroft, Oregon, Vol. 1, p. 406. 



"WESTWARD HO" 343 

heavy forests which cloak the sides of Mt. Hood down into 
the Willamette Valley. Thus the first great emigration to 
Oregon came to an end. The feasibility of taking wagons 
through to the Columbia River Valley had been demonstrat- 
ed. The Oregon Trail was opened! 

AN APPRAISAL 

It is most interesting to scan through Whitman's letters 
written after his return and look for those passages which 
reflect his conclusions regarding the results of his trip East. 
Writing to Greene on November 1 from Fort Walla Walla, 
he said : 

If I never do more than to have been one of the first to take white 
women across the mountains and prevent the disaster and reaction 
which would have occurred by the breaking up of the present emigra- 
tion, and establishing the first wagon road across to the border of the 
Columbia River I am satisfied. ... I am determined to exert myself 
for my country and to procure such regulations and laws as will best 
secure both the Indians and white men in their transit and settlement 
intercourse. 

And again on April 8, 1844, in a letter to Greene, he 
returned to this subject: 

Perhaps in some way, as we have so eminently aided the Govern- 
ment by being among the first to cross the mountains and the first to 
bring white women over, and last but not least, as I brought the late 
emigration on to the shores of the Columbia with their wagons con- 
trary to all former assertions of the impossibility of the route, we 
may be allowed the rights of private citizens, by taking lands in the 
country. 

On May 16, 1844, Whitman wrote to his wife's parents : 

As I hold the settlement of this country by Americans rather than 
by an English colony most important, I am happy to have been the 
means of landing so large an emigration on to the shores of the Co- 
lumbia, with their wagons, families and stock, all in safety. 

In a letter to Greene, dated July 22, 1844, he stated that 
"No one but myself was present to give them the assurance 
of getting through," referring to the members of the 1843 
emigration. Two more quotations are pertinent. On April 
1, 1847, he outlined his reasons for going East. 

. . and may not fail to demonstrate what I did in making my way to 
the States in the winter of '42 and '43, after the 3d of October. It 
was to open a practical route and safe passage, and to secure the 
favorable report of the journey from emigrants, which in connection 
with other objects, caused me to leave my family and brave the toils 
and dangers of the journey. . . . 



344 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

In connection with this let me say the other great object for which 
I went was to save the Mission from being broken up just then, which 
it must have been, as you will see by a reference to the doings of the 
Committee which confirmed the recall of Mr. Spalding only two weeks 
before my arrival in Boston. 

And again in the last letter Whitman wrote Greene, dated 
October 18, 1847, we find: 

Two things, and it is true those which were the most important, 
were accomplished by my return to the States. By means of the es- 
tablishment of the wagon road, which is due to that effort alone, the 
emigration was secured and saved from disaster in the fall of '43. 
Upon that event the present acquired rights of the United States by 
her citizens hung. And not less certain is it that upon the result of 
emigration to this country the present existence of this Mission and 
of Protestantism in general hung also. 

Here in these statements by Whitman himself we find 
the germ of the Whitman-Saved-Oregon story. All of his 
claims were true. Looking backward, he felt considerable 
pride in the remembrances of his services to the 1843 emi- 
gration. The emigrants of 1844 and succeeding years knew 
that those of 1843 got through, but those of 1843 had no 
precedent to guide them except the three wagons which 
crossed in 1840 and Whitman's assurance that it could be 
done. 

Spalding commented on the results of Whitman's trip 
in a letter to Levi Chamberlain, dated October 10, 1843. 
He then had nothing to say about any proposed treaty with 
Great Britain, but told of the delays that the doctor had 
experienced and that "consequently [he] did not have time 
to collect a colony of pious settlers for this country but 
simply obtained the consent of the Board to forward such 
a settlement." 63 One of the earliest published comments on 
the purpose of the ride appeared in Lee and Frost's Ten 
Years in Oregon, where we can read : "Dr. Whitman visited 
the United States, to obtain further assistance, in order to 
strengthen the efforts that had already been made." 64 

Another early statement is to be found in a French 
work entitled Voyages en California et Dans L'Oregon, by 
M. de Saint-Amant, which was published in Paris in 1854. 
A pertinent sentence, translated, reads : "Having come be- 
fore his fellow citizens had taken possession of the country, 
he had made himself a very active agent of the American 
interests, and had contributed not a little to urging annexa- 



63 O.H.Q., Dec., 1932. 

64 P. 213. This work appeared in 1844. 



"WESTWARD HO" 345 

u tion " 65 Since this was written in 1851 or 1852, the 

1 advocates of the Whitman-Saved-Oregon story have quoted 

it to prove that Whitman's political interests were early 
known. However, it should be pointed out that the author 
tj of this work makes no mention of Whitman's trip East in 

; 1 1842-43, and that his statement applies to the whole of 

Whitman's residence in Oregon. 

One of the best tributes ever paid to the memory of 
Marcus Whitman was that given by Peter H. Burnett, who 
became the first Governor of the State of California. He 
wrote : 

In my judgment he made greater sacrifices, endured more hard- 
ships, and encountered more perils for Oregon, than any other one 
man; and his services were more practically efficient than those of 
any other, except perhaps those of Senator Linn, of Missouri. I say 
perhaps, because I am in doubt as to which of these two men did more 
in effect for Oregon. 66 



es Pp. 226-228. 

66 Portland Oregonian, Nov. 26, 1897; reprinted in W.C.Q., Vol. 2, 
No. 1, p. 32. 



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN 

A CHANGING OREGON 
1843-1846 

ANEW DAY in Oregon's history began with the arrival 
of the 1843 emigration. The wagon road from Fort 
Hall to Fort Walla Walla was the magic key which unlocked 
Oregon's doors to the restless thousands on America's fron- 
tiers who were eagerly looking for new lands to settle. 
Whitman remembered with glowing pride the part he had 
played in the opening of that road. 

In the light of later events we now realize that Whit- 
man's greatest service to his generation was not to the 
Indians of Oregon, to whom he went as a Christian mis- 
sionary, but rather to his own countrymen who followed 
him over the Oregon Trail. Whitman's letters after his 
return indicate his changing interests. Gradually he came 
to the conviction that the Indians could never keep control 
of the land. He felt that in the providence of God, Oregon 
was meant for the white man. 

History is never static. Mankind is always passing from 
one era to another. Sometimes the process of transition is 
accelerated, as it was in Oregon during those years from 
1843 to 1847. Whitman returned to a changing Oregon. 
He and his co-workers were so intimately bound up with 
those changing political and social conditions that they be- 
came the victims of forces they had helped to start but 
could not stop or control. 

1843-1844 

After supplying the needs of the last of the emigrants, 
Whitman left for The Dalles, arriving there sometime dur- 
ing the latter part of October, for he and his wife were 
back at Fort Walla Walla on November 1. Dr. Whitman 
found Narcissa in poor health. Reporting her condition 
to Greene on November 1, Whitman stated that while his 
wife was somewhat relieved of her trouble, still she had 
not fully recovered. 

The trip from The Dalles to Fort Walla Walla by boat 
meant inevitable exposure to rain and cold. Narcissa suf- 



A CHANGING OREGON 347 

fered. They paused for a time at the Fort before under- 
taking the last stage of their journey. Dr. Whitman secured 
the use of a wagon, perhaps one that the mission owned, 
and the trip to Waiilatpu was made in one day. Because 
of Narcissa's weakened condition, they proceeded slowly 
and did not reach Waiilatpu until late in the evening. [Let- 
ter 145.] Even so, her health was not equal to the trip, 
and for six weeks thereafter she was confined to her room, 
spending most of the time in bed. 

During Dr. Whitman's absence from Waiilatpu, Fre- 
mont and his men arrived. Fremont was hoping to obtain 
flour at the mission but was unable to do so because all 
had been sold to the emigrants. He was obliged to be satis- 
fied with some of the "excellent potatoes." 1 He left some of 
the extra cannon balls which he had carried with him for 
his one lone howitzer, and this fact was remembered by the 
Indians at the time of the massacre. 2 He also left. a big 
mule which the Whitman's later called Uncle Sam, and 
which was mentioned by Narcissa in the last letter she wrote 
to her sister Jane. [Letter 220.] 

Narcissa was overjoyed to be with Marcus again, and 
yet she went back to Waiilatpu with a heavy heart. Her 
ill-health contributed to the spirit of dejection. She re- 
ferred to her return in the following words : "I turned my 
face with my husband toward this dark spot, and dark, 
indeed, it seemed to be to me when compared with the 
scenes, social and religious which I had so recently been 
enjoying with so much zest." [Letter 149.] And again: 
"I felt such a dread to return to this place of moral dark- 
ness, after enjoying so much of civilized life and Christian 
privileges." [Letter 145.] 

However, Marcus and Narcissa did not return to a lonely 
station. They found the two dwelling houses at Waiilatpu 
so crowded with emigrants that even the kitchen of the 
main building was used for a bedroom at night. The Whit- 
mans had their family of the three half-breed children, Mary 
Ann Bridger, Helen Mar Meek, and David Malin. Perrin 
Whitman increased their responsibilities to four. Then 
while passing through Walla Walla, they were induced to 
accept the care of two motherless girls, Emma and Ann 



1 Fremont, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition, p. 249. 

2 Statement by Catherine Sager Pringle. See Eells MS., Coll. W., 
bearing date, "Oct. 1885." 



348 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Hobson, age six and thirteen years, who had come out with 
their father in the 1843 emigration. 

Before leaving Waiilatpu for Waskopum, Whitman had 
made arrangements for the Littlejohns to live at Waiilatpu 
and assist in the mission work. Mrs. Littlejohn gave birth 
to a child shortly before the Whitmans returned. Because 
of the crowded conditions, she had been using the Whit- 
mans' bedroom; thus when Narcissa arrived, tired and 
sick, she and her husband had to turn the dining room into 
a bedroom. 

Five emigrant families and two single men were crowd- 
ed into the other available space. Jesse Looney and his 
family of six occupied the Indian room together with a 
young man by the name of Smith. John W. East and his 
family, including four small children, had the schoolroom, 
east of the kitchen. An uninvited mountain man, a French- 
man, whom Narcissa called Alex, slept in the kitchen. 

In the mansion house were three families, including the 
widow Eyres and her three children. There was another 
family with four children and an old couple. It does not 
appear that the first house built in 1836-37 was then suit- 
able for habitation. Twenty-six were living in the main 
mission house and twelve in the mansion house, making a 
total of thirty-eight. With the exception of the Looney 
family, all others in the main dwelling, nineteen in all, ate 
at the Whitman table. Narcissa, writing on January 31, 
1844, said that the fare was scanty : "... potatoes and corn 
meal, with a little milk occasionally, and cakes from the 
burnt wheat." [Letters 146 and 150.] At times Narcissa 
felt a little resentful to think that the best of the provisions 
had been sold to the emigrants. 

Whenever possible, Whitman gave employment to the 
able-bodied men to compensate for food and lodging. Yet 
he was frequently obliged to care for some whom misfortune 
had left in his dooryard who were unable to pay either in 
money or service for his hospitality. The widow of Miles 
Eyres with her children belonged to this group. Whitman 
probably felt a special responsibility to this family because 
of his influence in getting Mr. Eyres to migrate. 

Within five weeks after their return, the Whitmans 
were able to move into their own bedroom, suitable quarters 
having been prepared for the Littlejohns in a new room 
built "over the cellar." Narcissa's health became worse. 
During the latter part of December she was brought low 



A CHANGING OREGON 349 

"with a severe attack of inflammation of the bowels." [Let- 
ter 149.] Dr. Barclay at Fort Vancouver had treated her 
< for an enlarged ovary, and after she came under her hus- 
5 band's care, he felt that she had "an aneurism of the main 
1 aorta below the heart." [Letter 149.] These former trou- 
I bles with new complications brought Narcissa to death's 
j door, and for a time even her husband despaired of her 
I life. For three weeks her health remained in a pre- 
1 carious condition. About the first of February, 1844, she 
! rallied, and by May she was able to write that she was bet- 
] ter than she had been for a long time. [Letter 155.] 
* Dr. Whitman himself was handicapped through the 

, winter of 1843-44 because of a lame foot. Writing to his 
\ mother on May 20, 1844, he said: "I had a lame foot on 
, the road which left me with a tumor on my instep which 
i has given me solicitude & may give me still much more 
inconvenience." With his wife sick, the burden of conduct- 
ing the household, as well as directing all other activities, 
rested back on his shoulders. 

Mr. Little John likewise suffered from ill-health and could 

do little. Mrs. Littlejohn taught a school of fifteen white 

scholars. Dr. Whitman conducted the Sunday services for 

both the natives and the white people. Mrs. Whitman was 

never able to do much missionary work after her husband's 

return. For one thing her health would not permit it, and 

then, too, her household had so increased that she found 

; it necessary to give her strength to those committed to her 

] care. 

j While Whitman was able to do but little actual mission 

; work with the natives at Waiilatpu, Spalding was having 
; good success with the Nez Perces at Lapwai. During 
; Whitman's absence, Spalding had welcomed ten new mem- 
bers into the mission church, including Five Crows, re- 
named Hezekiah. Five Crows became principal chief of 
J the Cayuses, having received that appointment from Dr. 
! White. This brought the native membership of the First 
Church of Oregon up to twelve. The fact that Spalding 
i won the influential chiefs to his cause accounted in part 
' for the success of his mission at Lapwai. The conversion 
of Five Crows, chief of the Cayuses, was a good omen for 
i the work at Whitman's station. 

; Whitman spent June 20-23, 1844, at Lapwai, where he 

examined with Spalding a number of candidates for church 
membership. With these additions the native membership 



350 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

rose to twenty-two. No other natives were received into 
the church during the history of the American Board mis- 
sion. With the exception of Five Crows, who was half 
Nez Perce and half Cayuse, it appears that all of the 
natives were from the Nez Perce tribe. 

When Whitman was East he had opportunity to see the 
new medical books then available. Evidently he kept a list 
of the books which attracted his attention, for we find him 
sending back to Greene on April 8, 1844, for some sixteen 
works. At the same time he requested a copy of "Miss 
Leslie Complete Cookery." 

In his letter of April 8, 1844, to Greene, Whitman men- 
tions Tom Hill, a Delaware Indian, who was causing trouble. 
Hill settled among the Nez Perces about 1839 and by 1846 
had secured a dominant position in the tribe. He was a 
bitter critic of the white men and of the Protestant mis- 
sionaries in particular. He told the Indians that the emi- 
grants would take their lands, as the white man had done 
in the East. According to Whitman, Tom Hill was friendly 
to the Catholic priests, and fostered a spirit of rivalry and 
bitterness among the Indians. He told the Indians that the 
Protestant missionaries should "expend more liberally on 
them and that it is peculiarly our duty to do so." He ac- 
cused them of getting rich from the produce they sold to 
the emigrants. In many subtle and annoying ways, Tom 
Hill made mission work difficult. 3 Spalding called him a 
"blasphemous and debassed infidel." 4 Spalding felt the ef- 
fects of his nefarious influence more than did Whitman, 
for Tom Hill lived among the Nez Perces, yet the Cayuses 
were especially receptive to the ideas he was promulgating. 

Following his return, Whitman's letters carried frequent 
references to the Catholic priests. On April 8, 1844, he 
wrote : 

The Indians say they have been told by the Papists not to be afraid 

that we should leave them One of them told me that Mr. Blanchet 

told him if they would send me away he would send a mission among 



3 Clark, Pioneer Days, Vol. 1, p. 525, refers to a visit that To.m Hill 
made to Waiilatpu in the fall of 1846. Pee, Chief Joseph, pp. 256-259, 
mentions Tom Hill as being an interpreter for Chief Joseph at the time 
of his surrender. Frank P. Corbett, a Nez Perce, now of the U. S. 
Indian Service, claims that this Tom Hill died in 1924. Evidently the 
interpreter was the son of the first Tom Hill, and with the same name. 
There is a reference to a "half-breed Deleware Indian, considered a 
very dangerous man" in Hickman's Brigham's Destroying Angel, p. 
101, for about the year 1854. 

4 Spalding to Greene, Jan. 24, 1846. 



A CHANGING OREGON 351 

them. I tell them all plainly that I do not refuse to go away if they 
prefer the Papists to us, and urge them to decide if they wished me to 
do so, but that I should not go except at the full expression of the 
people, desiring me so to do. None of them as yet have been found 
to express such a desire. 

Whitman found the laws that White had tried to insti- 
tute among the Cayuses to be but empty forms because 
of the lack of a law-enforcing agency. He reported that 
William Craig, a mountain man living near Spalding at 
Lapwai, was busy "trying to incite the people against the 
laws as recommended by Doctor White." Thus the under- 
currents were beginning to move in an ominous way. 

Beginning with Whitman's letter of November 1, 1843, 
we find that his every letter back to the Board carried 
some reference to the political question. Whitman was 
tremendously concerned about the importance of getting 
the right kind of people to emigrate. He never gave up hope 
regarding his plan of having "pious laymen" settle in the 
vicinity of the mission stations. Even though the tendency 
at first was to settle the Willamette Valley, Whitman saw 
that the tide of white people would someday cover the Up- 
per Columbia country, and as early as November 1, 1843, 
expressed that belief. Whitman wanted to make sure that 
the mission had a clear title to the land it occupied, and 
mentioned this in his letter to Greene of July 20, 1843. 

Greene replied to Whitman on April 12, 1844, saying 
that he would write to Washington about the land claims. 
Greene wrote: "I see not why you will not have as good 
right to preemption as any later immigrants." Whitman 
brought up this subject again in his letter of April 8, 1844, 
and suggested that Greene take some steps to get Congress 
to approve the idea of granting land to each mission station 
in order to forestall any attempt on the part of settlers to 
claim mission property. In fact this scheme was tried in 
1845 by Craig, who laid claim to the Lapwai site. 5 

Practically all of Whitman's letter of May 18, 1844, is 
given over to a discussion of the land question and its re- 
lationship to the Indians and the emigrants. Whitman 
called the emigration movement "one of the onward move- 
ments of the world and it is quite in vain for us to wish 
it to stand still." Even though the Indians had made great 
progress in cultivation and in raising cattle, still he saw 



6 Drury, Spalding, p. 324. 



352 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

that they would be wholly unable to stand before an aggres- 
sive white population. He wrote: 

For where has it been known that an ignorant, indolent man has 
stood against Money, inteligence & enterprise? . . . For the command 
is multiply & replenish the earth neither of which the Indians obey. 
Their indolence, violence & blood shed prevent the first & indolence & 
improvidence the second. How then can they stand in the way of 
others who will do both? 

Whitman repeated this same argument in his letter to 
his brother of May 21, 1844. He wrote: "For I believe it 
is a part of the onward movements of the world and there- 
fore more to be moulded than to be turned aside. After this 
you will see why I came home in hopes to get good men to 
speck the country with settlements, & aid as the Providence 
of God indicated by supporting religion (Protestant Christi- 
anity) & education, both for the Colonists & the Indians." 

Whitman expressed himself as follows in a letter to his 
wife's parents, dated May 16, 1844: "I have no doubt our 
greatest work is to be to aid the white settlement of this 
country to found its religious institutions." The day came 
when the Indians realized that Marcus Whitman held such 
convictions, and they lost faith in him. 

1844-45 

Profiting by his experience in the fall of 1843, when 
the emigrants drained him of all provisions excepting po- 
tatoes, Whitman made every possible effort to be ready 
for those who came in 1844. Writing to Greene on October 
25, 1844, he stated that he had from fifteen to seventeen 
beeves which he expected to sell at six cents a pound. With 
the aid of Mr. East, he fashioned and placed a pair of 
granite millstones which measured forty inches across, and 
even though no building was erected over them, they were 
used to turn the wheat into flour. This Whitman expected 
to sell at five dollars a hundred for the unbolted flour and 
six dollars for the bolted. 

Narcissa looked forward to the coming of the emigrants 
with a heavy heart. The previous year she had seen the 
hundreds go by The Dalles, hungry, tired, and travel-worn. 
Some were almost destitute. Writing to her friend, Mrs. 
Brewer, on August 5, 1844, she said: 



6 The Portland Oregonian, Sept. 27, 1936, carried a picture of a 
millstone in the garden of Mrs. S. W. Eustice, of Yamhill, which is 
supposed to have been one of the stones Whitman used. 



A CHANGING OREGON 353 

We are all of us, I suppose, on the eve of another such scene as 
last fall the passing of the emigrants and as it falls the heavier 
upon my friends at the Dalls, I hope they have laid in a good stock of 
strength, patience and every needed grace for the siege. 

The Indians had likewise profited by the previous year's 
| experience. In their desire to get American cattle, they 

rode forth to meet the emigrants, some of them going as 
far east as Fort Hall, where they traded their fresh horses 
for the travel-worn cattle. The emigrants were usually 
in a hurry to get over the Blue Mountains, while the In- 
dians could take their time, thus giving opportunity for 
the cattle to recuperate. 

On Tuesday, October 1, the vanguard of the 1844 emi- 
gration reached Waiilatpu. This group consisted of some 
young men, and, to the surprise of Dr. Whitman, he found 
Newton Gilbert, of Rushville, among them. Years before, 
Gilbert had been one of his students in the day school and 
also in the Sunday school. [Letter 178.] Gilbert went on 
down to the Willamette but later returned to the mission 
to assist Whitman. 

The emigration of 1844 was so late that hundreds were 
caught by the snows in the Blue Mountains. Writing on 
October 25, 1844, Narcissa declared: 

It is now the last of October and they have just begun to arrive 
with their wagons. The Blue Mountains are covered with snow, and 
many families, if not half of the party, are back in or beyond the 
mountains, and what is still worse, destitute of provisions and some 
of them of clothing. Many are sick, several with children born on the 
way. One family arrived here night before last, and the next morn 
a child was born; another is expected in the same condition. 

Here we are, one family alone, a way mark, as it were, or center 
post, about which multitudes will or must gather this winter. And 
these we must feed and warm to the extent of our powers. Blessed be 
God that He has given us so abundantly of the fruit of the earth that 
we may impart to those who are thus famishing. 

The emigration of 1844 totaled about fifteen hundred, 
some of whom reached the mission station in an exhausted 
condition. Every possible preparation was made for them. 
Most of those who had spent the previous winter at Waiilat- 
pu had gone to the Willamette Valley. The Little Johns had 
left in September. Emma Hobson went to live with the 
Walkers at Tshimakain in April, 1844, and remained until 
March, 1845. 7 The empty rooms at Waiilatpu were soon 
filled when the emigrants arrived. 



7 Mrs. Walker's diary. 



354 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

By the 25th of October, long before the major part of 
the migration had passed, Narcissa wrote that all of the 
house room was then taken by needy families. There was 
still to come the Sager family of seven orphans, regarding 
whom word had been sent in advance to the Whitmans. 
[Letter 163.] Since the orphans had not a relative in the 
country, interested parties in the emigration looked to the 
mission to take care of the children. Writing on October 25, 
Narcissa confessed she did not know what they could do. 
A closing paragraph reflects the burdens of those days : 

I cannot write any more, I am so thronged and employed that I feel 
sometimes like being crazy, and my poor husband, if he had a hundred 
strings tied to him pulling in every direction could not be any worse 
off. [Letter 163.] 

Among the first to arrive who elected to stay were a 
blacksmith, a hatter, and two Methodist preachers. [Letter 
164.] Whitman remembered his need for a schoolteacher 
and hired a young man from Chenango County, New York, 
by the name of Alanson Hinman, who proved to be most 
helpful and reliable. Altogether, twelve families, besides 
the Sager orphans, from the emigration of that year found 
it necessary to spend the winter at Waiilatpu. Every spare 
room was crowded. Fortunately the winter was mild, thus 
permitting some to live either in their wagons or in tents. 

Special mention must be made of the Sager children, 
who were made orphans on the trail. Originally from Vir- 
ginia, Henry Sager was infected with the emigrating fever 
and made several moves, always westward. First he took 
his family to Ohio, then to Indiana, then to Missouri, and 
in April, 1844, he started for Oregon. He then had six 
children, two boys, John, aged 14, and Francisco, 10; and 
four girls Catherine, 9 ; Elizabeth M., 7 ; Matilda Jane, 5 ; 
and Hannah Louise, 3. Mrs. Sager was about to give birth 
to another and did not want to go to Oregon. With pro- 
phetic insight she declared she would never live to get 
through. In the latter part of May after. they had started, 
she gave birth to a baby girl, who was later called Henri- 
etta. Mrs. Sager was in miserable health thereafter. 

A series of misfortunes dogged the trail of the Sagers. 
At Fort Laramie, Catherine caught her dress just as she was 
about to jump out of a moving wagon. She was thrown under 
a wheel which ran over her, breaking a leg. 8 A German 



8 Lockley, Oregon Trail Blazers, pp. 325 ff., gives statement by 
Elizabeth that her father set the leg. Catherine herself made a similar 



A CHANGING OREGON 355 

doctor set the leg, which healed without leaving any out- 
ward trace of the injury. 9 However, Catherine was confined 
to the wagon for the most of the remainder of the journey. 
Mr. Sager was taken sick before they crossed the Con- 
tinental Divide, and died on August 27 as his family was 
camped on the bank of the Green River. Before he passed 
away, he is reported to have said: "Well, if I should die, 
I would want my family to stop at the station of Dr. Whit- 
man." He committed his sick wife and children to the care 
of William Shaw, captain of that section of the wagon train. 
The kind-hearted German doctor, referred to by the Sager 
girls as Dr. Dagen, although that does not seem to have 
been his true name, took the place of the deceased father 
on the driver's seat and drove the oxen the rest of the way. 

About four weeks later, in the vicinity of what is now 
Twin Falls, Idaho, the mother, realizing that her end was 
near, bade her children a sad farewell and committed them 
to the care of Dr. Dagen, with the charge that he should 
turn them over to Dr. Whitman. Some of the women of 
the wagon train, moved by compassion in the tragic situ- 
ation, came to Dr. Dagen's help in caring for the children. 
The four-wheeled wagon was reduced to a two-wheeled cart, 
and thus they continued on their way. Sometime during 
the latter part of the month, 10 Dr. Dagen brought to a halt 
near the door of the Whitman home the oxcart bearing the 
seven Sager children. Captain Shaw, who had preceded 
them, was in the house at the time. Noticing their arrival, 
he turned to Mrs. Whitman and said : "Your children have 
come ; will you go out and see them ?" 

Catherine Sager has given us a word-picture of their 
appearance : 

Foremost stood the little cart, with the tired oxen that had been 
unyoked lying near it. Sitting in the front end of the cart was John, 
weeping bitterly; on the opposite side stood Francis, his arms on the 
wheel and his head resting on his arms, sobbing aloud ; on the near side 



statement in a letter dated Dec. 21, 1854, which was printed in O.H.Q., 
Vol. 37, p. 355. Yet in Clark, Pioneer Days, Vol. 2, p. 505, quoting 
from Catherine's journal, we learn that the German doctor set the leg, 
which is more probably the true story. 

9 See Appendix No. 5 for a list of the articles written by the Sager 
girls, from which the information is drawn for this account. 

10 In several of the Sager accounts we read their claim that they 
reached Waiilatpu on October 17. This is evidently an error because 
Mrs. Whitman states it was October 25. In two of Mrs. Whitman's 
letters (187 and 191) she speaks of their arrival as being "in Oct. 
1844." 



356 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

the little girls were huddled together, bareheaded and barefooted, 
looking at the boys and then at the house, dreading we knew not 
what. By the oxen stood the good German doctor, with his whip in 
his hand, regarding the scene with suppressed emotion. 11 

When Mrs. Whitman appeared, her heart was touched. 
The little girls, embarrassed and afraid, ran to the other 
side of the wagon. Narcissa at once tried to make them 
feel welcome. Noticing Catherine's lameness, she began to 
assist her into the house. Captain Shaw asked if she had 
any children of her own. Narcissa paused, and then point- 
ing to Alice Clarissa's grave, she said : "All the child I ever 
had sleeps yonder." 

If there had been any reluctance on Narcissa's part to 
assume new and heavy responsibilities, her heart melted as 
she faced the desperate need of the forlorn children. One 
of the women of the emigration had cared for the little 
babe, which was placed in Mrs. Whitman's arms. The fol- 
lowing is Narcissa's description of the babe: 

She arrived here in the hands of an old filthy woman, sick, emaci- 
ated and but just alive. She was born some where on the Platte river in 
the first part of the journey, on the last day of May. Her mother died 
on the 25th of September. She was five months old when she was 
brought here had suffered for the want of proper nourishment until 
she was nearly starved. The old woman did the best she could, but 
she was in distressed circumstances herself, and a wicked, disobedient 
family around her to see to. 

Husband thought we could get along with all but the baby he did 
not see how we could take that; but I felt that if I must take any, I 
wanted her as a charm to bind the rest to me. So we took her, a poor, 
distressed little object, not larger than a babe three weeks old. [Let- 
ter 192.] 

Surely the child would have died within a few days had 
it not been for the tender care which Mrs. Whitman be- 
stowed upon her. While Dr. Whitman at first did not care 
to assume responsibility for the little babe, his wife felt 
that the five girls were enough for them to take and sug- 
gested that the boys could be given to others. However, Dr. 
Whitman felt that the boys should stay with the girls and 
said : "All or none." So it was agreed to keep them all. 

Catherine Sager wrote her memories of Mrs. Whitman's 
appearance as follows: "She was a large, well-formed 
woman, fair complexioned, with beautiful auburn hair, 
nose rather large, and large gray eyes. She had on a dark 
calico dress and gingham sunbonnet. We thought as we 



11 Clark, op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 508. 



A CHANGING OREGON 357 

shyly looked at her that she was the prettiest woman we 
had ever seen." 12 Elizabeth remembered her hair as being 
"a copper gold," and said: "She had a matronly figure I 
think she weighed between 150 and 160 pounds." 13 

The Whitmans found Mr. Hinman to be not only a good 
schoolteacher, but also one who could relieve Mrs. Whitman 
of many of the duties of the household connected with the 
oversight of the children. A year later Mrs. Whitman 
wrote: "I feel that I never can be too thankful for the 
mercies of the Lord in placing such a good young man in 
our family to do this work for us when my health was so 
inadequate." [Letter 176.] 

When Dr. Whitman wrote to Greene on October 25, 
1844, and reported on the work of the mission, he mentioned 
the school. "This is a place," he wrote, "most advantageous 
for the commencement of what may soon be an Academy 
& College." Today Whitman College stands within seven 
miles of his mission station, a living memorial to his faith 
and devotion. In this letter he requested that a threshing 
mill for his wheat, and a corn thresher be sent to him. These 
articles arrived in the' summer of 1847. 

On April 8, Whitman wrote again to Greene and gave 
a summary of his financial dealings with the emigrants. 
He had received enough money to pay cash for some sup- 
plies needed from the Hudson's Bay Company, and had 
$507.07 in notes which he had taken from those who were 
unable to pay at the time they needed provisions. He had 
also received ten or twelve oxen by way of exchange. Dur- 
ing the winter of 1844-45, he had used some of the men 
who had wintered with him to build a sawmill about twenty 
miles away in the Blue Mountains. Whitman had the nec- 
essary irons at hand and needed the sawed lumber. He 
was then dreaming about a settlement which he expected 
would grow up in that vicinity. Moreover, he needed new 
roofs on his buildings. They were still using the old dirt 
roofs, which were very unsatisfactory. 

In replying to Whitman's letter of October 25, 1844, 
Greene wrote on April 6, 1846 : "Still we are not quite sure 
that you ought to devote so much time and thought to feeding 
the emigrants, and thus make your station a great restaurant 
for the weary pilgrim on their way to their promised land." 
Greene felt that Whitman was giving too much time and 

12 Ibid. 

13 Lockley, op. cit., p. 329. 



358 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

attention to secular activities. "There is a danger also," 
wrote Greene, "that your mission, like that of the Metho- 
dists, will get the name and character of a trading or money 
making establishment and thus bring discredit." As will 
be seen, Whitman resented the suggestion that he could 
have done otherwise as far as meeting the needs of the 
emigrants was concerned. 

Tuesday, April 8, 1845, was a letter-writing day for both 
Marcus and Narcissa; four of their letters written then 
have come down to us. In one Whitman referred to the 
fact that he then had eighty sheep, a large part of which 
were ewes. 14 "All these," he wrote, "came from one ewe 
brought from the Sandwich Islands in '38 and two more 
brought in '39." [Letter 170.] In another letter he reported 
on his wife's health : "I cannot think Mrs. Whitman's health 
will ever be good again." On October 25 of the preceding 
fall Narcissa told her family that she weighed "one hundred 
and sixty-seven pounds; much higher than ever before in 
my life." [Letter 163.] 

In Whitman's letter of April 8, 1845, he told of the old 
Indian superstition of sorcery which was then giving him 
considerable concern. It so happened that a young man 
had died of apoplexy, and it was claimed that Dr. Whitman 
had caused his death. Dr. Whitman wrote that if such a 
conviction were widely accepted it would make "... my 
stay among them useless and dangerous and might induce 
me to leave at once." He referred again to the Indian cus- 
tom of killing a te-wat who failed to cure a patient. An- 
other matter giving him concern was the report that the 
Jesuit missionaries were planning to establish a station in 
that vicinity. A third cause for worry was the death of 
Elijah Hedding, the son of a prominent Walla Walla chief, 
Peupeumoxmox, also known as Yellow Serpent. 

When Dr. Elijah White arrived in Oregon as a Metho- 
dist missionary in May, 1837, he reported seeing a number 
of Indian boys in the mission school there who had been 
named after well-known characters in the Methodist Church, 
and among these boys was the son of the Walla Walla chief, 
who was given the name of a famous Methodist bishop, 
Elijah Hedding. 15 In 1844 a party of Indians from the vi- 



14 Whitman letter 174 states that members of the 1844 emigration 
had brought some sheep with them. This is the first evidence that sheep 
were driven across country to Oregon. 

15 Allen, Ten Years, p. 74. 



A CHANGING OREGON 359 

cinity of Waiilatpu, including Elijah Hedding, went to Slit- 
ter's Fort in California in the hope of trading furs and 
horses for cattle. While they were there, a dispute arose 
about the ownership of a mule, which resulted in the killing 
of Elijah by a white man. The other Indians hastily re- 
turned, leaving their cattle behind. Their report of what 
took place greatly excited the other members of their tribe. 
Whitman immediately informed White of the situation. 

The Indians were not disposed to drop the matter. They 
demanded retribution, which, indeed, was their right under 
the very laws which Dr. White had instituted among them. 
The first of Dr. White's laws read: "Whoever wilfully 
takes life shall be hung," and the tenth stated: "If an In- 
dian raise a gun or other weapon against a white man, it 
shall be reported to the chiefs, and they shall punish him. 
If a white person do the same to an Indian, it shall be re- 
ported to Dr. White, and he shall redress it." Ellis, chief 
of the Nez Perces, was appointed to visit Dr. White in the 
spring of 1845 to talk the matter over. White sought to 
pacify the Indians by making some generous promises, one 
of which related to the establishment of a boarding school 
among the Indians of the Upper Columbia country. The 
unfulfilled promises remained, after White left Oregon, for 
the repeated embarrassment of both Spalding and Whitman. 

Sometime during the spring of 1845, Whitman visited 
the Lower Columbia country. Nesmith once wrote: 

I know that Dr. Whitman had cause to dread the vengeance of 
the Indians long before it overtook him. I heard him, in the spring 
of 1845, express his apprehension on that subject to Dr. McLaughlin, 
at Oregon City, and the latter agreed with him upon the danger of his 
situation, and advised him to come to the Willamette valley 16 

These superstitions about Dr. Whitman's supposed 
power as a sorcerer and the early stages of the Elijah Hed- 
ding affair were the beginnings of the gathering of the 
storm clouds which were to unleash their fury upon the 
Whitmans and their companions about two and a half years 
later. 

The 1845 mission meeting was held at Waiilatpu from 
May 9-14, inclusive. All were present except Mrs. Spalding. 
A meeting of the church was held on Sunday, May 11, and 
Alan Hinman was received into its membership. 17 Dr. 



16 T.O.P.A., 1880, p. 23. For a reference by Dr. McLoughlin to his 
word of warning to Whitman see ibid., p. 53. 

17 Mrs. Walker's diary, May 11, 1845: "Mr. Hinman was received 



360 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Whitman was appointed a committee to investigate Charles 
Compo, 18 who was then living in the Willamette Valley. 
James Conner, who had been received into the mission 
church on November .17, 1839, and who had been suspended 
on February 4, 1843, "for the sin of Sabbath breaking, 
neglect of religious duties & fighting," was formally ex- 
communicated. Spalding added this note in the church 
records: "It has since proven that he has been guilty of 
polygamy, sending a challenge to fight a duel, and vending 
liquor." 19 

Reporting on the events of the meeting in his letter of 
May 20 to Greene, Whitman declared that the utmost har- 
mony prevailed. This good feeling among all members of 
the mission had been apparent, he stated, ever since his 
return in 1843. The missionaries were fully aware of the 
dangers that surrounded them. On May 31, Mrs. Walker 
summed up her impressions of the mission meeting in her 
diary and gave the following comment about Dr. Whitman : 
"Dr. Whitman entertains fears that his people intend tak- 
ing his life. We think they will not do it but it is very trying 
to have them conduct as they do." 

The mission requested Whitman to go to the Willamette 
to look after some supplies. Consequently he left soon after 
the meeting was over and was away from Waiilatpu for 
at least six weeks. Whitman wrote to his brother-in-law, 
Frank Wisewell, from Fort Vancouver on June 29 and 
urged him to migrate to Oregon. In this letter we read: 
"Narcissa has written me since I left home and says she 
will not allow me to leave home again without she goes 
with me. She is not in strong health and her spirits flag 
when I am from home and so much care comes upon her." 

While in the valley Whitman had his controversy with 
Dr. White, to which reference has already been made, in 
regard to the prices charged by Whitman for supplies. 
White started back to the States on July 12, leaving a 
tangled political situation behind him, fraught with much 



into our church and baptized. Dr. W. had the four orphan sisters and 
Harry B. baptised, and a Mr. Thomas, a blacksmith had a child 
baptized." 

18 Later Spalding wrote in the church record book: "Dr. Whitman 
visited Compo in summer of 47. He appears well, has withstood the 
efforts of the Catholics to draw him back again, refused to give up his 
bible to the priest who wished to burn it. Since died in Cal., Jan., 
1865." 

19 Bancroft, Oregon, Vol. 1, p. 281. 



A CHANGING OREGON 361 

trouble. Such incidents as the Elijah Hedding affair had 
not been settled. On his way eastward, 20 White and his 
party met with the 1845 emigration. According to one wit- 
ness, White advised some of the emigrants to go to Waiilat- 
pu for supplies. 21 However, it appears that he advised oth- 
ers to take a short cut and go direct to The Dalles, thus 
avoiding both Waiilatpu and Fort Walla Walla. Whitman 
wrote to Greene on October 26, 1845, and stated that most 
of the emigrants had missed his station. He was ready to 
sell flour for five dollars a hundred, while at The Dalles 
the emigrants had to pay eight dollars for the same amount. 
It may be that Whitman's controversy with White was one 
reason why White urged the emigrants to go direct to The 
Dalles. 

When the Whitmans took the Sager children into their 
home, it was understood that Captain Shaw was to return 
and get them the next spring. However, after a few days, 
Dr. Whitman mounted his horse and caught up with the 
wagon train and sent word to Shaw that they wished to 
keep the children. When in Oregon City, Whitman ap- 
peared before Probate Judge J. W. Nesmith on June 3, 
1845, and requested that he be appointed the legal guardian 
of the Sager children. Appraisers appointed by the court 
reported that the total value of Henry Sager's estate was 
$262.50. Dr. Whitman posted bonds for twice that sum 
and became the legally appointed guardian of the children. 22 

When Whitman was in the Willamette Valley in the fall 
of 1847, he called on Captain Shaw, who was then living 
at Howell Prairie near Salem. He informed Shaw that he 
and Mrs. Whitman were planning to adopt the Sager girls 
and have their names changed to Whitman. Captain Shaw 
advised to the contrary, feeling that the girls as well as the 
boys should retain their family name. 23 Evidently Captain 
Shaw's advice prevailed, for there is no record of any action 
being taken by Dr. Whitman to adopt any of the Sager 
children. He remained their legally appointed guardian. 



_ 20 Allen, op. cit., p. 265. White tried to find a new route to the 
Willamette Valley over the Cascade Mountains, but failed. On this ex- 
ploring trip he named a prominent peak after John C. Spencer, Secre- 
tary of the Treasury. 

21 Lockley, 033. cit., p. 352. 

22 O.H.Q., Vol. 11, pp. 312 ff. 

23 Lockley, op. cit., p. 331. 



362 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEEE AND MARTYR 

1845-1846 

The 1845 emigration was the first to feel the full effects 
of the successful termination of the emigration of 1843, 
for it took about a year for letters to get back to the States 
to inform others that wagons could be taken over the Blue 
Mountains. The emigration of 1844 was 50 per cent larger 
than that of 1843, but in 1845 the numbers were 300 per 
cent greater. Thus the tide rolled westward, and with the 
increasing American population there came the ever-grow- 
ing conviction that Oregon was being bound to the Union 
by indissoluble ties. The optimistic emigrant still hoped 
that Congress would pass the bill giving a section of land 
to each settler. 

The emigration of 1845 was much earlier than that of 
the previous year, having enjoyed more favorable weather 
conditions. Consequently the emigrants did not arrive in 
such a destitute condition. Whitman, writing to Walker 
on September 29, 1845, said : "Few of the Immigrants call 
on us. Four hundred and fifty wagons passed Fort Hall but 
from seventy to one hundred went to California." 

A rare pamphlet, entitled Autobiography and Remini- 
scences by Sarah J. Cummins, a member of the 1845 emi- 
gration, tells how Dr. Whitman piloted a large section of 
this emigration over the Blue Mountains in the fore part 
of September. Learning from some friendly Indians of the 
intention of some of the Cayuses to attack the emigration, 
Whitman with a few Nez Perces made a forced ride by 
night. He met the emigrants while they were on the Powder 
River. While they were in the Grande Ronde Valley, a large 
war party of the Cayuses and Walla Wallas appeared, who 
were somewhat surprised to find that the emigrants had 
been warned. 

One of the Cayuse chiefs sullenly defied "all settlers and 
all authority of government." The following account is 
taken from Mrs. Cummins' story : 

Ere the twilight faded, and as it was apparent that great numbers 
of the Indians were gathering within range, Dr. Whitman began to 
talk to the chief of the Walla Walla's. The chief made no reply but 
shook his head defiantly. The chief of the Cayuses now spoke ve- 
hemently in the style of true Indian eloquence. The Doctor spoke 
again and again, and the chief replied, still defying us to go on. Then 
Doctor Whitman rose to almost super-human heighth and, in a stern 
voice, told them in emphatic terms that the Great Father of the 
"Bostons" would send men to defend these travelers, and that ship 



A CHANGING OREGON 363 

loads of soliders and guns would arrive to kill all the Indians who 
molested his people on their way to the distant valley. 24 

Fearful of an attack during the night, Dr. Whitman suc- 
ceeded in keeping the Cayuse chief in the emigrants' camp 
as a hostage. Mrs. Cummins called it "a night of terror 
to all." The next day the emigrants continued on their way 
under the watchful care of Dr. Whitman. In this incident 
we find one of the first indications of the growing hostility 
of the Indians to the emigrants. The fact that Dr. Whitman 
had taken the side of the white men undermined the faith 
of the Indians in their missionary. 

The April, 1907, issue of the Washington Historical 
Quarterly contains the diary of John Ewing Howell, another 
member of the 1845 emigration. On September 17, 1845, 
Howell made this entry : 

Trav. and camped on the Umatallow river Dr. Whitman and 

lady visited our camp this morning and travelled with us and camped 
with us. He had a wagon-load of flour along not bolted $8 pr. 100 Ibs. 

About two hundred families tried a new cut-off to the 
Willamette Valley under the guidance of Stephen H. L. 
Meek, a brother of Joseph L. Meek. They followed the 
Malheur River to its headwaters, hoping to find a pass into 
the Willamette Valley. They suffered indescribable hard- 
ships and at least twenty of the emigrants died. Meek was 
obliged to flee for his life. It may be that White's enthusi- 
asm for such a cut-off was responsible for the venture, but 
Meek got all the blame. The party finally reached The 
Dalles, where they were back on the main route again. 

Most of the 1845 emigrants, following White's advice, 
followed the Umatilla River past the present site of Pendle- 
ton, Oregon, to the Columbia River. Thereafter, both Waii- 
latpu and Fort Walla Walla were on a detour. Only those 
in immediate need of supplies turned aside to visit the 
Whitman station. This was a very logical development of 
the trail, yet Whitman was disappointed. He had made 
extensive preparations to supply the emigrants and then 
found himself with but few customers. Writing to Greene 
on October 26, he declared that most of the emigrants had 
already passed. He wrote : "The money I took from them 
was less than one hundred and fifty dollars and about fifteen 
dollars trust. Three cows and two small steers." 

Whitman also referred to White's plan to establish a 



24 Cummins, op. tit., p. 40. 



364 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

manual labor school among the Nez Perces and requested 
Greene "to keep a look out for Doct White's course in the 
states." He claimed that White had involved the Oregon 
mission of the American Board by his rash promises. On 
April 13, 1846, Whitman returned to the subject of Dr. 
White and blamed him for telling the emigrants that "they 
could get a full supply of flour at the Dalls." Not only did 
the emigrants have to pay more, but many found the supply 
exhausted. It is evident that Whitman was not happy over 
this incident with White. 

Several, families and individuals found it necessary to 
spend the winter at Waiilatpu. Among them was Josiah 
Osborn, a millwright, whose services Whitman was glad 
to get, 25 and Tom Summers, a blacksmith. Both men had 
their families with them, as did Isaac Cornelius, who also 
wintered at Waiilatpu. Whitman engaged two young men, 
Jacob Rynearson and Andrew Rodgers, to teach. Rynear- 
son tried to teach English to the Indians, but after a month's 
effort the experiment was abandoned. Writing to Greene 
on April 13, 1846, Whitman said : "We also sent a teacher 
to spend the winter at Kamiah where he had a school of 
about twenty five among which were two Delawares & 
Ellis. ..." This seems to have been the last effort by the 
Oregon mission to do work in Kamiah. It may be that 
Rynearson was the one who was sent to Kamiah. Andrew 
Rodgers was employed to teach the school for white chil- 
dren at Waiilatpu. 

In the Whitman College museum is the account book of 
Josiah Osborn which he kept when in Dr. Whitman's em- 
ploy. The records begin on August 21 and continue through 
to March 7, 1846. It appears that Dr. Whitman paid him 
at the rate of $1.50 a day, for the most part in produce. 
The following items taken from Osborn's accounts indicate 
the prices that Whitman was charging: 

25 Ibs flour at 5 cts per pound $1.25 

1 bus. beats 40 

1 potatoes 40 

69 Ibs. beaf 3.79% 

8 squashes 1.00 

20 Ibs pork 1.40 



25 An account of the Osborn (sometimes spelt Osborne) family was 
given by Nancy Osborn Jacobs in a paper read May 12, 1912, and 
printed in the Waitsburg Times, Feb. 2, 1934; in an interview given to 
Fred Lockley and printed in Oregon Trail Blazers, pp. 351 ff. ; and in 
a letter of Mr. Osborn's dated April 7, 1848, which is in Coll. W. 



A CHANGING OREGON 365 

1 Ib shugar 20 

51 Ibs meal 2.04 

6 ft tobacco 60 

The tobacco, which came in twisted strands and was 
sold by the foot, was used in trading with the Indians. There 
is every reason to believe that these were the usual prices 
charged, and they furnish the refutation, if any be needed, 
to the accusation that Whitman was exorbitant in his de- 
mands. 

Among those who visited Waiilatpu in the fall of 1845 
was Joel Palmer, who later wrote a book on his experiences 
in the Oregon Country. According to Palmer, Dr. and Mrs. 
Whitman visited his encampment on September 17 with 
provisions. He wrote: "The doctor & lady remained with 
us during the day; he took occasion to inform us of the 
many incidents that marked his ten years' sojourn in this 
wilderness region, of a highly interesting character." Pal- 
mer reported that Whitman had killed thirty-two horses 
for food during his Oregon residence. 26 

Writing on April 13, 1846, to Greene, Whitman com- 
mented on the difficulty of getting much work out of the 
emigrants. To begin with, they were strangers, and it was 
difficult to check up on their abilities. Again, the winter 
weather often prevented out-of-doors work. With the com- 
ing of spring, when their services were most needed, they 
usually left for the Willamette to begin farming for them- 
selves. However, during the winter of 1845-46 Whitman 
managed to get his sawmill operating in the mountains, 
although he still did not have enough boards to put a decent 
roof on his house. He also needed a building over the flour 
mill. He reported that he then had over one hundred ewes 
in addition to the sheep furnished the Indians. 

Reporting on the health of members of the mission, he 
wrote: "Mrs. Whitman's health is quite poor just now." 
He reported that the expenses of the mission to be paid 
by the Board would be 303.7.4. He begged again for a 
mission reinforcement, but such pleas were without result. 27 

From time to time the Whitmans heard rumblings of 
discontent among the Indians. Writing in the fall of 1845, 
Mrs. Whitman declared : "It may be that we shall be obliged 



26 Palmer, Journal of Travels, p. 57. 

27 The Rev. G. H. Atkinson was sent out to Oregon as a home mis- 
sionary to labor among the white people in the fall of 1847. He went 
by sea, arriving in the early part of 1848. 



366 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

to leave here in the spring. The state of things looks now 
very much as though we should be required to." [Letter 
183.] And in April, 1846, Whitman wrote to Greene about 
their difficulties with the Catholics. He claimed that he had 
told the natives that he would give them until spring to 
decide whether or not the mission was to be abandoned. 
Whitman wanted to settle the question. He wrote : "I was 
not long left in doubt as to duty, for they came forward at 
once and said they had no sympathy with the adherants of 
the Papist who had treated me in the manner to cause me 
thus to appeal to them." [Letter 191.] 

The Walkers at Tshimakain expected an addition to 
their family in February or March, 1846, and wrote to Dr. 
Whitman, urging him to be present. Dr. Whitman replied 
on February 23, saying that it was impossible for him to 
make the trip because of an injury received early in the 
preceding December when a horse fell with him, hurting 
his knee joint." Mrs. Walker gave birth to her fifth child, 
a son, on March 7. He was called Jeremiah. 

None of Mrs. Whitman's letters written in the fall of 
1845, except one to Mrs. Brewer, has been preserved. Writ- 
ing to her father on April 10, 1846, she began her letter 
with these words : "I have received no letters from father, 
mother or any of the sisters or brothers in Alleghany county 
since husband returned." 28 Why did they not write? In a 
letter to Harriet, written April 13, 1846, Narcissa wrote 
at some length regarding her care of the children. She 
told how she and the girls would go every day in the sum- 
mer to bathe in the river. 29 With the passing of the months, 
she found herself becoming more and more bound up with 
the Sager children. She could not have been a better mother 
to them had they been her own. In her letter of April 10 
to her father she referred to the responsibilities of rearing 
eleven children "in a heathen land." She wrote: "To be 
in a country among a people of no law, even if they are 
from a civilized land, is the nearest like a hell on earth of 
anything I can imagine." 

Narcissa wrote repeatedly to members of her family, 



28 On Nov. 3, 1846, Narcissa wrote to her mother: "Mothers dated 
Mar. 26, 1846, was sent from Boston to Westport and reaches me in 
about five months after it was mailed. This brings me very near home. 
Indeed it is the first I have received since those sent by Husband." 

29 Delaney, Whitman Massacre, p. 9, gives Matilda's version of the 
summer swims. 



A CHANGING OREGON 367 

especially to Jane and Edward, begging them to go to 
Oregon. Each fall she would hope that some one of her 
loved ones would be among the emigrants, and each time 
she felt the disappointment a little more keenly. 

Writing to her brother Edward on April 2, 1846, Nar- 
cissa acknowledged receipt of a box of things he had sent 
but confessed that she was disappointed in not finding a 
"louse trap." "I had hopes," she wrote, "of finding one 
little article more that is needed more than most any other 
because it cannot be obtained here; name pi-la-ain, as the 
Indians call it (louse trap)." She referred to a fine-toothed 
comb. The lodges of the Indians were always infested with 
various kinds of vermin which made life miserable for all 
whites living in too close proximity. 

When Mrs. Whitman received the Sager children into 
her home, she found them rather undisciplined. Narcissa 
had decided opinions regarding the value of discipline in 
the home and began at once to train the children according 
to her New England ideas. Matilda Jane Sager later gave 
this description of her life at Waiilatpu : 

There was no danger of any of us becoming spoiled. She would 
point to one of us, then point to the dishes or the broom, and we would 
instantly get busy with our assigned tasks. She didn't scold much, but 
we dreaded that accusing finger pointed at us. 80 

Matilda Sager wrote : "We never had anything but corn 
meal mush and milk for our suppers and they were very 
particular in our being regular in our habits of eating and 
sleeping." 31 Occasionally the family would go on a picnic. 
Matilda's reminiscences published in 1920 contain many 
references to their happy life in the Whitman home. She 
wrote: "Mrs. Whitman taught us the love of flowers. We 
each had a flower garden, which we had to weed and care 
for. She taught us a great deal about things of that kind 
and instilled in us a love of the beautiful." 32 

The children went barefooted in the summer and wore 
moccasins in the winter. Mrs. Whitman made dresses for 
the girls out of the "hickory shirting" purchased from the 
Hudson's Bay Company. For three happy, fleeting years 
the Sager children lived at Waiilatpu. Dr. and Mrs. Whit- 
man were father and mother to them, and were so called. 



30 Lockley, op. cit., p. 345. 

31 Delaney, op. cit., p. 8. 

M Ibid., -n. 191 



Ibid., p. 12. 



368 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

The tenth year of the Whitmans' residence in Oregon 
came to a close under favorable circumstances. Mrs. Whit- 
man was enjoying better health. The Indians were quiet. 
Dr. Whitman was making new improvements about the 
station to add to their comfort and effectiveness. All was 
well but it was like the calm which sometimes precedes 
the storm. 



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN 

THE LAST YEAR 

1846-1847 

ALL WAS WELL at Waiilatpu in the fall of 1846. On 
September 8 Whitman wrote : "I think we have at no 
time been as much in the affections of the people as now. 
A much kinder disposition is manifested toward us, now 
more than at any former period. ..." The Indians contin- 
ued to observe morning and evening worship in 'their lodges, 
and Whitman wrote that "a blessing is strictly regarded as 
being a duty to be asked upon taking food." [Letter 209.] 
On November 3 Narcissa wrote to her mother and stated 
that: "Husband has just written to our Board. He says 
he never has felt more contented." 

Even the Catholic influence did not seem so menacing to 
the Whitmans in the fall of 1846 as it had previously. The 
priests had sought for an invitation from the Cayuse In- 
dians to settle among them, but such an invitation had not 
been given. [Letter 208.] On February 8, 1847, Narcissa 
wrote to Mrs. A. T. Smith, of Tualatin Plains, and mentioned 
the fact that she and her husband had sometimes talked 
about retiring to the Willamette, "not that we wish to leave 
the Indians," she explained, "so long as they will let us stay 
among them but if the necessity should come that we must 
leave them then we shall find it pleasant to seek some quiet 
spot among the society of our friends where we may enjoy 
something of the fortaste of our eternal rest." In that same 
letter she also stated: "As it regards the Indians at this 
station we feel that our influence for good was never greater, 
among them, than now." 

It should be remembered that these conditions prevailed 
after Dr. McLoughlin, Nesmith, and others had advised 
Whitman to move away from Waiilatpu. The fact that 
Whitman had weathered several crises gave him a feeling 
of false security. He relied too much on the good will of 
the Indians. 

THE EMIGRATION OP 1846 

The emigration of 1846 was not so large as that of the 
preceding year. Bancroft estimated that about twenty-five 



370 MAECUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

hundred persons went to the Pacific Coast that year, of 
whom fifteen or seventeen hundred went to Oregon. 1 The 
others went to California. Some of those who went to Ore- 
gon followed what was called the southern route to the 
Willamette and, therefore, did not pass near the Whitman 
station. Their trail left the main Oregon Trail before reach- 
ing Fort Boise. 

Whitman wrote to Greene on September 8, saying that 
he had then received no calls from the emigrants for sup- 
plies. This was a disappointment, for he hoped to become 
self-supporting through his sale of provisions to the emi- 
grants. On that day Horace Hart, a brother of Mrs. Henry 
Spalding, arrived. He left at once for Lapwai to make his 
home with the Spaldings. 

Among the emigrants that year was Anson Sterling 
Cone, who in later years told how he and his brother Aaron 
had visited Waiilatpu about the middle of October, and, 
being in need of a pack horse, proposed to Whitman that 
they be allowed to work out the price of the horse. "Boys," 
replied Whitman, "you had better take 'Bob' there and all 
the provisions you need and go at once. At the end of the 
season there will be those coming who will have to stay 
here anyhow and I had better have the work for them." 
So the Cone brothers took "Bob," a trusty white Cayuse 
pony, and the next summer paid Dr. Whitman twenty-five 
dollars for the horse and the provisions received. 2 Anson 
Cone remembered the doctor as being "sociable and a good 
joker." Later Anson served on the jury which convicted the 
Whitman murderers. 

From previous experience Whitman knew that he could 
expect some needy families from the tail end of the emi- 
gration to call on him for help. Such was the case in 1846. 
By November 3, six families and eight young men had found 
it necessary to stay at Waiilatpu. Of this number four 
were very sick, and Whitman wrote that two or three of 
these would certainly have died if they had not paused for 
medical aid and rest. Three babies were born to this group 
of emigrants while they were at Waiilatpu. [Letter 212.] 
Whitman sent three of the families to live in the log cabin 
which had been erected at the sawmill in the Blue Moun- 
tains. Writing on April 1, Whitman reported that his saw- 



1 Bancroft, Oregon, Vol. I, p. 552. 

2 Walla Walla Union, Aug. 12, 1936. 



THE LAST YEAR 371 

mill had been in operation during the winter, thus pro- 
viding sufficient lumber for many needed improvements. 

Greene had written to Whitman on April 6, 1846, and 
suggested that he was spending too much time and thought 
on the emigrants. Greene advised against turning the sta- 
tion into a restaurant or a trading point. Whitman replied 
on April 1, 1847, by saying: "If we are not legally, re- 
ligiously nor morally bound to relieve the passing Immi- 
grants we are necessiarly; for the sick and hungry cannot 
be sent away however penyless." He added that he possibly 
could have found farmers when he was East in 1843, but 
that meant he would have had to protract his stay, which 
in turn "would have endangered the Emigrants to come 
without a safe pilot and myself with the possibility of an- 
other years stay in the States." 

THE WINTER OP 1846-47 

The services of William Geiger were secured to teach 
the school of about twenty white children at Waiilatpu 
during the winter of 1846-47. Narcissa told her mother 
that Geiger was "an excellant young man and superior 
teacher." She also wrote : "We set the table for more than 
twenty every day three times and it is a pleasing sight." 
[Letter 207.] 

Under the influence of the Whitmans, Andrew Kodgers 
had decided to enter the ministry and was studying at the 
mission station to that end. Rodgers was a good singer 
and in him Narcissa found a companion that cheered many 
a lonely hour for her. She felt that he would have made 
a good husband for her sister Jane and was instrumental 
in getting the two to write to each other. Writing to Jane 
on April 15, 1847, she said: 

I can assure you it is no small comfort to have some one to sing 
with who knows how to sing, for it is true, Jane, I love to sing just 
as well as ever. From what I have heard of Edward, it would be 
pleasant to hear him again; as for you, kala tilapsa kunku (I am 
longing for you continually to sing with), and it may be, put us all 
together, with the violin which Mr. Rogers plays, we should make 
music such as would cause the Indians to stare. 

The winter of 1846-47 was unusually severe for that 
country. Both the missionaries and the natives lost heavily 
of their cattle and horses, which were left, as was the cus- 
tom, in the open without shelter. Whitman in his letter of 
April 1, 1847, to Greene stated: "At our station we have 



372 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

had a heavy loss in sheep, calves and some cattle (old cows) 
colts and horses." It is reported that the Nez Perces lost 
one half of their total stock of horses, and, what was worse, 
the wild game in the mountains likewise suffered, which 
meant that the Indians were later unable to find their usual 
food. It seemed that Nature herself was conspiring to arouse 
feelings of restlessness and even of blind resentfulness in 
the hearts of the Indians. 

THE SPRING AND SUMMER OF 1847 

In the spring of 1847 Whitman found it necessary to 
make another trip to the Willamette Valley to see about 
supplies for the mission. His letter of April 1, 1847, was 
written from Fort Vancouver. Whitman must have heard 
much political discussion about Oregon's future on this trip, 
for his letter contains a lengthy explanation of his reasons 
for going East in 1842. He felt quite satisfied with the turn 
of events and must have found some pleasure in pointing 
out the important results of the journey for which he was 
censured by Greene. 

On June 19, 1846, the United States Senate confirmed 
a treaty with Great Britain which fixed the Oregon boundary 
at the forty-ninth degree parallel, which is the present 
boundary line between the states of Washington and Idaho 
and Canada. The news of the ratification of the treaty 
was made known to Oregon citizens through an extra edi- 
tion of Oregon's first newspaper, the Oregon Spectator, on 
November 4, 1846. 

In his letter of April 1, Whitman wrote: "American 
interests acquired in the country, which the success of the 
immigration of '43 alone has and could have secured, have 
become the foundation and cause of the late treaty with 
England and the United States in regard to Oregon." Whit- 
man was quite right in claiming that the one thing which 
made the treaty possible was the large influx of American 
citizens into Oregon. If the 1843 emigration had failed, 
later emigrations would have been much smaller, and the 
claim of the United States to Oregon would thereby have 
been weakened. Even though the boundary question was 
settled, Congress failed to take any steps to erect a terri- 
torial government. We must remember that the United 
States became involved in a war with Mexico in 1846 and 
that Congress was then too busy with other matters to be 



THE LAST YEAR 373 

giving much time to Oregon. So the provisional govern- 
ment formed by interested citizens in the Willamette Val- 
ley carried on for more than a year after the boundary 
question was settled. 

Soon after Whitman's return to his station, he was 
obliged to leave for Tshimakain to attend the annual meet- 
ing of 1847. Narcissa had not made a journey on horse- 
back so far for six or seven years, but she felt strong 
enough to attempt the trip. Mr. Eells had been at Waiilatpu 
for some supplies, so he, Mr. Rodgers, and Mrs. Whitman 
left sometime after May 18. They made the journey by 
easy stages and arrived at Tshimakain on Thursday, May 
28. Dr. Whitman, who was able to travel much faster than 
his wife, remained behind several days to assist the emi- 
grants who had spent the winter at Waiilatpu and Who were 
then preparing to leave for the Willamette Valley. The 
doctor reached Tshimakain on June 2. 

This meeting of the mission considered the important 
matter suggested by Mr. Greene in his letter of February 
25, 1846, regarding the closing of the station at Tshimakain. 
Greene thought that perhaps one of the families could move 
to Waiilatpu and another to Kamiah. "All seemed to feel," 
wrote Narcissa, "that we had come to an important crisis 
and that God alone could and must direct us." [Letter 217.] 
Shortly after the arrival of Greene's letter, there came the 
offer from the Methodists to sell their station at The Dalles. 
When Whitman was in Oregon City in the spring of 1847, 
he called on the Rev. George Gary, superintendent of the 
Methodist mission, and discussed with him the transfer of 
the property. Whitman told Gary that if the Methodists 
had not been at The Dalles in 1838, some of the re-enforce- 
ment sent out that year by the American Board would cer- 
tainly have settled there. Whitman's letter of May 19 to 
Greene deals in part with the advisability of buying the 
property. Whitman wrote: 

Yesterday letters came to hand . . . offering us the station without 
charge for the buildings and improvements and informing us that 
the station was to be given up by them in the course of the summer, 
or early in the fall. This will open a new field for our Mission and 
one we can by no means fail to occupy. For if we allow the Papists 
to take this station we might as well give up this also. 

This proposal caused considerable discussion at the mis- 
sion meeting held at Tshimakain. Walker and Eells were 
loath to accept Greene's suggestion that they abandon Tshi- 



374 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

makain. The associations of nine years had bound them 
there, and they did not want to leave. It was finally decided 
that the Walkers should move to The Dalles, and that the 
Eells family should move to Waiilatpu. [Letter 217,] 

On Sunday, June 6, all met in worship, and Mr. Spalding 
administered the sacrament. Everyone was present, four 
men and four women. It was the last time the full mission 
was assembled. On the Monday following, the Whitmans 
started back to their station. Mr. Walker left on the 9th, 
for he was asked to inspect The Dalles station with Whit- 
man. They reached Waiilatpu on Saturday, June 12. 

Whitman and Walker visited the station at The Dalles, 
and Walker seemed satisfied, so Whitman informed the 
Methodists that they would take over the station in Sep- 
tember. However, when Walker got back to his home and 
talked the matter over with his wife, he sent back a negative 
reply. It appears that his wife was pregnant and did not 
want to move to a new location under these conditions. 
Moreover, they did not like the idea of learning a different 
language. The refusal of the Walkers to move meant that 
both families would remain at Tshimakain for at least an- 
other winter. 

Whitman wrote to Greene on August 3, 1847, and re- 
ported the change of plans. He did not then know what 
could be done. He had promised the Methodists that the 
American Board mission would take the station, and yet 
he knew not whom to send. Both he and Narcissa were 
convinced of the strategic importance of the station and 
felt that if it was not occupied, it would fall into the hands 
of the Catholics. [Letter 217.] 

In this letter of August 3, Whitman mentioned several 
other items of interest. He told of how permission had 
been granted to Hinman to take the mission press to the 
Willamette Valley, where Hinman planned to publish a 
paper devoted to temperance and religion. Thus this his- 
toric press escaped the looting which took place at the time 
of the massacre. The press is now safely preserved in the 
rooms of the Oregon Historical Society at Portland, Oregon. 
Whitman told of the retirement of Dr. McLoughlin, who 
was then living at Oregon City, and said that he was a 
zealous advocate for Papacy. McLoughlin was succeeded 
at Fort Vancouver by James Douglas. 

According to a note made by Narcissa on August 23, 
Dr. Whitman then planned to hire Mr. and Mrs. Hinman 



THE LAST YEAR 375 

to take charge of the secular affairs at The Dalles. [Letter 
217.] Whitman found it necessary to go to Oregon City 
I and The Dalles in August to complete the arrangements in- 
| cident to the exchange of property. On September 7, 1847, 
I the Methodists turned Waskopum over to Dr. Whitman, and 
on September 13, Whitman reported the situation to Greene. 
The whole cost to the American Board was $721.13. Only 
a small payment was then made, the balance of $651.38 to 
be paid the following year. The fact that the full sum was 
not paid left the title still in the hands of the Methodists, 
with the result that they later received a substantial in- 
demnity from the Government. The mission site was oc- 
cupied for military purposes after the massacre, and in 
1860 Congress authorized a payment of $20,000.00 to the 
Methodist Church. 3 

Whitman succeeded in getting the Hinmans to go to The 
Dalles station, Having no one else to turn to for help in 
religious work, Whitman left his seventeen-year-old nephew, 
Perrin, to stay with the Hinmans and do what he could 
with the natives. Whitman wrote of Perrin's command of 
the Indian language: "Neither Mr. Spalding nor myself 
can at all compare with him in speaking or reading the Nez 
Perce language." Whitman was optimistic over the outlook 
at The Dalles. He prophesied that it would be their best 
station and spoke of the strategic location that it promised 
for a college. Again he pleaded for more workers. "We 
must have help from home," he wrote. 

Another event of interest which took place during the 
summer of 1847 was the visit of Paul Kane, a Canadian 
artist, to Fort Walla Walla and Waiilatpu. Kane was paint- 
ing pictures of the Indians of the Northwest. He visited 
the Whitman mission on July 18, and in his published 
work he speaks of the cordial reception extended to him 
by Dr. and Mrs. Whitman. Kane noted that Dr. Whitman 
then had from forty to fifty acres under cultivation and 
had more of the comforts of life than "one would expect 
in such an isolated spot." In view of later events we find 
Kane's description of the method by which he got the pic- 
tures of Tomahas very interesting. He wrote: 

Dr. Whitman took me to the lodge of an Indian called To-ma-kus, 
that I might take his likeness. We found him in his lodge sitting 
perfectly naked. His appearance was the most savage I ever beheld, 
and his looks, as I afterwards heard, by no means belied his character. 

3 Photostats of documents in Coll. W. 



376 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

He was not aware of what I was doing until I had finished the sketch. 
He then asked to look at it, and inquired what I intended doing with 
it, and whether I was not going to give it to the Americans, against 
whom he bore a strong antipathy superstitiously fancying that their 
possessing it would put him in their power. I in vain told him that I 
should not give it to them ; but, not being satisfied with this assurance, 
he attempted to throw it in the fire, when I seized him and appeared 
greatly enraged, but before he had time to recover his surprise I 
left the lodge and mounted my horse, not without occasionally looking 
back to see if he might not send an arrow after me. 4 

During Kane's four-day sojourn at Waiilatpu he also 
secured a picture of Tiloukaikt. These two pictures along 
with others made by Kane are to be found today in the 
Royal Ontario Museum at Toronto, Canada. 

The day after Kane's return to the Fort, one of the sons 
of Peupeumoxmox, also a brother of the murdered Elijah 
Hedding, appeared at the Fort. He was the advance agent 
of a war party of some two hundred Cayuse and Walla 
Walla Indians who had left for Sutter's Fort in California 
about February 1, 1846, to avenge the death of Elijah Hed- 
ding. The war party had been gone for eighteen months, 
and the rumor was that all had been killed. Walker re- 
ferred to this rumor in his letter to his wife of June 15, 
1847. The arrival of the messenger was the occasion for 
the greatest excitement among the Indians, who immedi- 
ately gathered about him to hear the news. Kane happened 
to be present and heard his tale of the failure of the expe- 
dition. The following is Kane's account of the dramatic 
event : 

No sooner had he dismounted from his horse than the whole camp, 
men, women, and children, surrounded him, eagerly inquiring after 
their absent friends, as they had hitherto received no intelligence, be- 
yond a report, that the tribe had been cut off by hostile tribes. His 
downcast looks and silence confirmed the fears that some dire calamity 
must have happened, and they set up a tremendous howl, whilst he 
stood silent and dejected with the tears streaming down his face. At 
length, after much coaxing and entreaty on their part, he commenced 
the recital of their misfortunes. 

After describing the progress of the journey to the time of the 
disease (the measles) making its appearance, during which he was 
listened to in breathless silence, he began to name its victims one 
after another. On the first name being mentioned, a terrific howl en- 
sued, the women loosening their hair and gesticulating in a most vio- 
lent manner. When this had subsided, he, after much persuasion, 
named a second and a third, until he had named upwards of thirty. The 



4 Kane, Wanderings of an Artist, p. 194. 



THE LAST YEAR 377 

same signs of intense grief followed the mention of each name, pre- 
senting a scene which accustomed as I was to Indian life, I must con- 
fess affected me deeply. . . .6 

All of the latent fears concerning the Americans were 
aroused. Even the ravages of the disease were blamed on 
them. The Indians had built up in their bodies no resist- 
ance to such a disease as measles, so when it visited their 
tribes it struck with devastating power. It was a white 
man's disease! Messengers were immediately dispatched 
by the Indians to neighboring tribes to inform them of the 
tragic circumstances. 

At that time, William McBean, a Roman Catholic, was 
in charge of Fort Walla Walla. Archibald McKinlay had 
retired in February, 1846. Kane consulted with McBean, 
and both agreed that Dr. Whitman and his family were in 
the gravest danger, and should be warned. Kane left the 
Fort at six o'clock in the evening and rode the twenty-five 
miles in three hours. He told Whitman the full story and 
advised him to move his family to the Fort at once. Some- 
what to Kane's surprise, Whitman took the news very 
calmly and remarked that he had lived among them so long 
that he did not fear they would injure him. After a visit 
of an hour or less, Kane remounted his horse and returned 
to the Fort. 

It so happened that Whitman correctly evaluated the 
attitude of the Indians toward him at that time. McLough- 
lin and others had warned him of the danger of remaining 
at Waiilatpu, and yet somehow every crisis had blown over. 
Whitman had a streak of obstinacy in him. He knew of 
the danger that he constantly faced, but at the same time 
he felt that he had done too much for the Indians for them 
to molest him. He counted too much on a shallow gratitude. 
Moreover, Whitman was remembering that another emi- 
gration was then on its way to Oregon. He felt that he was 
needed at Waiilatpu. A high sense of duty, plus a strong 
faith in the providence of God, kept him at his station. 

THE COMING OP THE CATHOLICS 

While Whitman was still at The Dalles, the first of the 
emigrants of 1847 began passing. He heard reports of the 
thousands who were on their way, and he became anxious 
over the food question. The Dalles station had nothing to 

5 Ibid., pp. 196-7. 



378 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

sell, and his own farm at Waiilatpu had not produced as 
much as usual that year. As soon as possible Whitman 
hurried back. He reached Fort Walla Walla on September 
23, where he found a number of Roman Catholic mission- 
aries under the newly appointed Bishop of Walla Walla, 
A. M. A. Blanchet, ready to open a mission station in that 
vicinity. Whitman was visibly disturbed. One of the Cath- 
olics, the Rev. J. B. A. Brouillet, wrote as follows regarding 
Whitman's attitude: 

His countenance bore sufficient testimony of the agitation of his 
heart. He soon showed by his words that he was deeply wounded by 
the arrival of the Bishop. 'I know very well,' said he, 'for what purpose 
you have come.' 'All is known,' replied the Bishop, 'I come to labor 
for the conversion of the Indians, and even of Americans, if they are 
willing to listen to me.' The Doctor then continued in the same tone 
to speak of many things. He attributed the coming of the Bishop to 
the Young Chief's influence made a furious charge against the Catho- 
lics, accusing them of having persecuted Protestants He refused 

to sell provisions to the Bishop, and protested he would not assist the 
missionaries unless he saw them in starvation. 6 

The Catholics had been cordially received by William 
McBean, who assisted them in making contacts with the 
Indians favorable to the Roman Catholic faith. Young 
Chief, who had received a house on the Umatilla River 
from Pambrun, was the one most eager for the Catholic 
missionaries. However, even Tiloukaikt and Five Crows 
were interested enough to meet with the Bishop and his 
party. According to Brouillet, Young Chief "suggested the 
idea of establishing the mission near Dr. Whitman's at 
the camp of Tilokaikt, saying that there was more land 
there than near his house, and that it was more central; 
that, by his wife, he had a right to the land of Tilokaikt, and 
that he was disposed to give it to the mission, if Tilokaikt 
was willing." 

A meeting was held at the Fort on October 26, with 
Tiloukaikt, Tamsucky, and other Indians present. After a 
long conference Tiloukaikt assured the Bishop that he would 
not object to the establishment of a Catholic mission near 
Waiilatpu. The Bishop said that he did not want Whitman's 
property but felt there was room for both missions. If he 
had known the Indian character, he would have realized that 
two missions of rival beliefs would certainly cause trouble 



6 Cannon, Waiilatpu, pp. 93-94, quoting from Brouillet's Authentic 
Account. 



THE LAST YEAR 379 

when established as close together as he then proposed. 7 
Brouillet visited the proposed site near Waiilatpu on 
November 8 and learned that Tiloukaikt had changed his 
mind. Brouillet wrote: "[He] refused to show it to me, 
saying that it was too small. He told me that he had no 
other place to give me but that of Dr. Whitman's whom he 
intended to send away." Brouillet then declared that the 
Bishop was not willing to take the place of Dr. Whitman. 8 
Brouillet returned to the Fort on the 10th of November 
and reported the new turn of events. The Catholic mission- 
aries then decided to accept Young Chief's offer and live in 
his house on the Umatilla about twenty-five miles from 
Waiilatpu. The Bishop, his secretary Rousseau, and Brouil- 
let left Fort Walla Walla for their new station on November 
27. The Bishop had in the meantime sent four priests and 
two lay brothers to the Yakimas. Although Father De Smet 
was a Jesuit, none of these later Catholic missionaries be- 
longed to that order. Whitman, Spalding, and Gray re- 
ferred to all of them as Jesuits. 9 

It was an unfortunate circumstance that prompted the 
Roman Catholics to establish a mission station in the imme- 
diate vicinity of Waiilatpu at that particular time. The 
twenty-five miles which separated Waiilatpu from Young 
Chief's house was not a great enough distance to insure peace. 
One of the greatest authorities on the history of Oregon, 
H. H. Bancroft, wrote : 

I have in previous chapters stated my belief that the interference 
of the Catholics augmented Whitman's troubles with the Cayuses ; but 
it is evident to my mind that had there not been a Catholic in the 
country the catastrophe would have come in the identical shape that 
it did come, from Indian jealousy alone. 10 

Bishop Blanchet was quite aware of the concern he was 
giving Dr. Whitman, for he wrote as follows : 

The arrival of the bishop of Walla Walla with his clergy to the fort 
was a thunderbolt to the Presbyterian ministers, especially to Dr. 
Whitman. He was wounded to the heart by it. He could not refrain 
from expressing his dissatisfaction saying he would do all in his power 
to thwart the bishop. 11 

7 Gray, Oregon, p. 462. 

8 Eells, Marcus Whitman, p. 278 ; Gray, op. tit., p. 463, quoting 
from Brouillet, op. tit., p. 44. 

t( 9 Bancroft, op. tit., Vol. 1, p. 654. Four of them belonged to the 
order of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, with two lay brothers, two 
secular priests, Brouillet and Rosseau; and Guillaume Leclaire, a 
deacon." 

10 Ibid., p. 698. 

II Ibid., p. 654. 



380 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Commenting 1 on this statement, Bancroft wrote : " . . . but 
whether in Catholic or Protestant, religious zeal knows no 
mercy . . . Protestant and Catholic alike believed the other 
the emissary of Satan, whom to afflict was doing God 
service." 12 

THE EMIGRATION OF 1847 

The emigration of 1847 numbered between four and five 
thousand. Very few went to California that year. As early 
as August 23, Mrs. Whitman was able to write: "For the 
last two weeks immigrants have been passing, probably 80 
or 100 wagons have already passed." [Letter 217.] Each 
year many suffered along the trail, some dying, and the emi- 
gration of 1847 was no exception. The very size of the party 
going westward was an embarrassment, for the first on 
the trail exhausted the grass and those who brought up the 
rear found that their animals suffered for want of pasture. 

The members of the emigration of 1847 suffered greatly 
from the depredations of the Indians, especially along the 
Columbia. Several cases were reported of the Indians' 
stripping the white people of all of their clothes and leaving 
them naked. There were repeated instances of the Indians' 
stealing livestock. Because of the difficulties experienced 
by the emigrants of 1846, who went by the southern route to 
the Willamette, most of the emigrants of 1847 went by Uma- 
tilla and The Dalles, thus making it necessary for them to 
pass the camps of the thieving Indians. 

Whitman was indefatiguable in his endeavors to smooth 
the way for the emigrant and to prevent clashes with the 
natives. The following account is indicative of his attitude : 

Harriet Tibbetts Kennedy (my husband's grandmother) was four 
years old when she crossed the plains, leaving Iowa April first, 1847. 
Some time in October the wagon train camped near the Whitman mis- 
sion. To little Harriet Tibbetts, Marcus Whitman seemed a "tolerable 
tall man" as he came riding into their camp to warn them, to hurry on, 
that he was "afraid of his own Indians." He was the first white man 
that they had seen on the trip outside of their own party. Great- 
grandmother Tibbetts put the children to bed so that she and her 
husband could talk to Marcus Whitman. Later she told Harriet that 
he had said his Indians were causing him trouble and he was afraid 
of the consequences. 13 

Another account by a member of the 1847 emigration 
tells how Dr. Whitman secured the return of some stolen 
goods. 



12 Ibid. 

13 Henriette Baker Kennedy's letter of Mar. 12, 1936, to the author. 



THE LAST YEAR 381 

Upon our robbery being reported to Dr. Whitman he called the 
Indians together; they gathered in a half -circle in front of the doctor, 
wrapped in their blankets, many with their faces painted with war 
paint and the doctor began to arraign them about the theft. I looked 
on, standing beside father (John Fenn) and holding his hand. 

As the doctor proceeded and the guilty consciences of the Indians 
were awakened from time to time a knife, fork or frying pan would 
be dropped by an Indian from beneath his blanket and when Dr. Whit- 
man had finished most of the stolen property was lying about on the 
ground at the feet of the Indians. One of the Indians threw down a 
skillet with considerable force and as I thought threw it at the doctor, 
but father said, "No, they are mad." 14 

While bringing back two wagons loaded with supplies 
from The Dalles in September, Whitman found a better 
route than that formerly used. The new road was inland from 
the river and had the advantages of avoiding some hills, of 
being shorter, of providing more grass for the livestock, 
and of missing a number of Indian camps frequently found 
along the river. 

After returning to Waiilatpu, Whitman left almost im- 
mediately to guide a party of emigrants over his new road 
to The Dalles. Among them was P. W. Crawford, who has 
left a manuscript, entitled "Narrative of the Overland Jour- 
ney," in which he refers to Dr. Whitman's "mission of benev- 
olence." Here is one testimony among many regarding 
Whitman's willingness to be of service. Crawford refers to 
him as being a stout, robust-looking man with a strong and 
intelligent mind. 15 

On October 7, when Whitman was on his way back to his 
station after conducting this party to The Dalles, he camped 
a little beyond the house owned by Young Chief, near a 
party of emigrants, among whom was Judge L. W. Saunders 
and his family from Oskaloosa, Iowa. With Dr. Whitman 
were two men, a Mr. Bear and a Mr. Glenday, both of whom 
were on their way back to the States. Mr. Saunders invited 
the men with Dr. Whitman to his camp for both supper and 
breakfast. Dr. Whitman was seeking a teacher for his school 
for white children and offered such strong inducements to 
Judge Saunders that he agreed to turn back and spend the 
winter at Waiilatpu. This decision of Saunders involved 
Mr. Isaac Gilliland, a tailor, who was driving one of the 
Saunders wagons. Whitman and his two companions hur- 



14 Account of Elizabeth Ann Coonc in Walla Walla Union, Aug. 
12, 1936. 

15 Bancroft, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 647. 



382 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

ried on to Waiilatpu, while the Saunders party followed 
more leisurely. 

In a published account of her experiences by Mrs. 
Saunders we read that their party reached Waiilatpu on 
October 12, where they found Mr. Bear and Mr. Glenday 
"waiting for Dr. Whitman and the Rev. Spaulding to write 
a paper to the government at Washington, D. C., asking to 
have soldiers stationed between Fort Laramie and Oregon 
for the protection of the next emigration to Oregon." Since 
Mr. Saunders had legal training, he was asked to draw up 
the papers. 16 

The continued and serious depredations of the Indians 
on the emigrants aroused Whitman. He was ready to join 
his appeal with many others to Congress in an effort to get 
the much needed protection. A six-page memorial was 
written, dated October 16, 1847, and addressed to "The 
Honorable Secretary of War, to the Committees on Indian 
Affairs and Oregon, in the Senate and House of Representa- 
tives of the United States." The memorial suggested that 
the United States Government establish a line of posts along 
the Oregon Trail for the protection of the emigrants. The 
memorial incorporated many of the ideas to be found in 
Whitman's proposed bill written after his return to Oregon 
in 1843 and in other bills relating to Oregon. The various 
posts were to have food supplies and were to be used as sta- 
tions for the carrying of mails by horseback. It was stated 
that with frequent change of horses, the mails could be 
carried at the rate of "one hundred to one hundred and fifty 
miles in twenty-four hours." 

Regarding the attacks of the Indians, we read : 

The Indians along the line take courage from the forbearance of 
the immigrants. The timid Indians on the Columbia, have this year 
in open day, attacked several parties of waggons, numbering from two 
to seven, & robbed them, being armed with guns, bows & arrows, knives 
& axes. Mr. Glenday from St. Charles, Mo., the bearer of this com- 
munication to the States, with Mr. Bear, his companion, rescued seven 
waggons from being plundered & the people from gross insults, res- 
cuing one woman, when the Indians were in the act of taking all the 
clothes from her person. The men were mostly stripped of their shirts 
& pantaloons at the time. [Letter 221.] 



16 Saunders, The Whitman Massacre, p. 7. Mrs. Saunders states 
that Bear and Glenday left Waiilatpu for the States on Oct. 15. 
Whitman's last letter to Greene, carried by Mr. Glenday, is dated 
October 18. A mistake was made either by Mrs. Saunders or Dr. 
Whitman. 



THE LAST YEAR 383 

Whitman sent a copy of his memorial to Greene with the 
request : "Please send copies of the above to such members 
of Congress & other influential men as you think will favor 
the object proposed." 

It appears that copies of this memorial were sent to 
many different people. The following quotation is taken 
from a letter written by I. I. Rodgers, a sister of Andrew 
Rodger s, to Myron Eells: 

I have in my possession an article of this description signed by 
Marcus Whitman and written by my brother. This was written and 
sent about two months or less, before the murder of all at Dr. Whit- 
man's station. This was sent to an uncle of mine who had been in 
public life to some extent at different periods of life, was a warm 
personal friend of Col. H. T. Benton, and in a letter this was sent to 
my uncle for him to correct and send it in some way that it would 
reach the attention of the Government and bring about some such re- 
sults as suggested by the paper sent. 17 

On the very day that Whitman was writing out his me- 
morial, Dr. John McLoughlin wrote to the Secretary of War 
from Oregon City and gave similar recommendations for the 
protection of the Oregon emigrants. He wrote : "I am con- 
vinced that the manner in which the Immigrants travel 
from Fort Hall to this place will lead to trouble unless the 
Measures I suggested to Dr. White when he left here to go 
home are adopted." McLoughlin advised the Government 
to establish a post at Fort Hall, and in this connection he 
recommended Robert Newell "as a person well qualified for 
the office of Agent." 18 

LAST LETTERS 

The last of Narcissa's letters that we have was written 
October 12 to her sister Jane. Again she made an earnest 
appeal for her sister to come to Oregon. Narcissa wrote: 
"You know not how much you are all needed here this 
present moment ; yes, I may say, we are suffering and shall 
suffer for the want of your assistance and presence here 
this winter." In 1846, Mr. and Mrs. J. Quin Thornton, of 
Quincy, Illinois, had migrated to Oregon. Narcissa was 
deeply disappointed that Jane had not taken advantage of 
the opportunity to come with them. It seems that Jane wrote 
to Narcissa, saying that she could not go on short notice 
since she wanted first to see her parents. To this excuse 
Narcissa replied in the closing paragraph of that last letter : 

17 Not dated but postmarked Nov. 20, 1891, Coll. W. 

18 Original in files of Old Indian Bureau, Wash., D. C. 



384 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Jane, there will be no use in your going home to see ma and pa 
before you come here it will only make the matters worse with your 
heart. I want to see her as much as you. If you will all come here it 
will not be long before they will be climbing over the Rocky Mountains 
to see us. The love of parents for their children is very great. I see 
already in their movements, indications that they will ere long come 
this way, for father is becoming quite a traveller. Believe me, dear 
Jane, and come without fail, when you have so good an opportunity. 

Farewell, N. W. 

Elizabeth Sager later told how eagerly Narcissa had ex- 
pected Jane to arrive in the fall of 1847. In anticipation of 
that great event, Mrs. Whitman gave her house a thorough 
cleaning. Elizabeth then asked : "This isn't spring, Mother 
why are we cleaning the house now?" Narcissa replied: 
"Didn't you know that we are looking for your Aunt Jane 
to come out soon ?" 19 But Jane didn't come. 

Whitman's last letter to Greene was dated October 18. 
So far as we know, it was the last letter he ever wrote. From 
this letter the following extracts are taken : 

I have now been at home two Sabbaths only since my return from 
completing the wagon road from the Utilla to the Balls 

A Bishop is set over this part of the work whose seat as the name 
indicates will be at Walla Walla. ... I cannot blame myself that the 
plan I laid down when I was in Boston was not carried out. If we 
could have had good families say two or three together to have placed 
in select spots among the Indians the present crisis which I feared 
would not have come. 

Whitman again reverted to the subject of the good 
accomplished by his return to the States and emphasized the 
importance to Oregon of the 1843 emigration. "Upon that 
event," he wrote, "the present acquired rights of the U. 
States hung." He again urged Greene to do something about 
sending out colonies of good men to settle in the vicinity of 
the mission stations. He wrote : 

My plan is for you to confer with the Pastors and individuals in 
some way and lay the matter open before them. Let there be a selec- 
tion of men for the work or volunteers. Let them be of the best of 

Pastors and church members for it is a work that needs good men 

Can a mind be found so narrow as not to part with a church member 
simply because they are good men and .useful where they are. I fear 
this is the feeling. 

Again he dwelt upon the charms and advantages of 
Oregon to the settler. He praised the climate and boasted 
of the endless ranges for the grazing of sheep and cattle. 
He saw that the day was quickly coming when the interior 



Lockley, op. cit., p. 332. 



THE LAST YEAR 385 

would be as much sought after as the Willamette Valley. 
His last words to Greene were : "I hope the want of a man 
for the Balls Station will not escape your notice." 

Greene was patient with Whitman's continued insistence 
that something be done to send out pious settlers, but he did 
1 little. Writing to Whitman on April 14, 1845, he said he did 
not know what could be done to induce "moral and intelli- 
gent men to go as settlers to the Oregon country," and then 
added : "I doubt very much if we ought to attempt anything 
of the kind." He felt that the matter as to who should fill 
the Oregon Country was one which could be left "to the 
providence of God." 

Whitman was not satisfied with that reply. He felt that 
the churches had a duty to fulfill ; hence his repeated requests 
that something be done. Whitman's last letter to Greene was 
another effort to inspire the churches to action. Greene re- 
ceived the letter with the memorial several months after 
Whitman had been killed, and on March 17, 1848, he replied. 
Greene wrote : 

The memorial relating to the establishment of military posts on the 
route to Oregon, I send immediately to Mr. Baldwin of the U. S. Senate, 
with a letter of my own, asking him to give attention to it. ... 

As to the sending or obtaining men to emigrate to the Oregon 
country, respecting which you write with much earnestness and ap- 
parently with the impression that I must feel impelled by a sense of 
duty & regard to every great interest to make immediate and strenous 
efforts, whatever other interests may suffer from my turning away 
from them, I must say that I cannot regard it as my duty to make any 
efforts at all in any form. . . . 

Do not feel that all Oregon is on your hands, & that the planning, 
providing & laboring for all its interests are developed on you 

But the man who was thus being rebuked for an excess 
of patriotic zeal was already dead. 

CROWDED WAIILATPU 

Waiilatpu was crowded with emigrants after the long 
wagon trains of 1847 had passed. The Saunders family with 
their five children was assigned two large rooms in the 
mansion house which Gray had built. Mrs. Saunders reports 
that Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Kimball, of Laporte, Indiana, with 
their four children occupied a room in the same building on 
one side of them, and that Mr. and Mrs. Peter Hall, of Illinois, 
with five children occupied a room on the other side. A 
widow, Mrs. Rebecca Hays, and her young son, of Platte 
County, Missouri, lived with the Halls. 



386 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

Upstairs in the same building were quartered Mr. Walter 
Marsh, his daughter, and an infant grandson, from Sanga- 
mon County, Illinois. Also Isaac Gilliland, of Long Island, 
New York; Joe Stanfield, a French Canadian, probably 
once in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company; and 
Jacob Hoffmann, of Elmira, New York. Thus there were at 
least twenty-eight staying in the mansion house, all of whom 
except Standfield were emigrants. 

Two families, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Smith and their five 
children, of Du Page County, Illinois, and Mr. and Mrs. Elam 
Young, of Osage County, Missouri, were living at the sawmill 
in the Blue Mountains. Other members of the emigration 
who had elected to stay were Crocket Bewley and his sister 
Lorinda, of Missouri, and Amos Sales, all three of whom 
were sick at the time of their arrival or soon afterwards. 
Lorinda Bewley was given a bed in the upstairs room of the 
main mission dwelling, while her brother and Sales occupied 
a sleeping room off the kitchen. Later Sales moved to the 
blacksmith shop. This brought the total number of emigrants 
to forty-three. 

On Monday, October 18, Josiah Osborn and his wife with 
their four children arrived. The Osborn family had wintered 
with the Whitmans during the winter of 1845-46, and Whit- 
man had a high opinion of Osborn as a millwright and me- 
chanic. When Whitman was in the Willamette Valley in 
August, 1847, he called on Osborn at Salem and persuaded 
him to return to Waiilatpu that fall to build two mills which 
Whitman needed. Whitman agreed to pay him three hun- 
dred dollars a year, and Osborn went for a two-year period. 
This shows that Whitman then had no intention of moving 
away from Waiilatpu. 

On April 7, 1848, Osborn wrote a letter to relatives in 
the East which throws some light upon the events leading 
up to the tragedy of November 29. After passing through 
great dangers and many sorrows, Osborn regretfully wrote : 
"Dr. Whitman came down and wanted me to undertake to 
build two mills for the Mission not being, satisfied when 
doing well, I consented to go." 20 He left with his family the 
latter part of September and reached Fort Walla Walla 
about October 15. Dr. Whitman sent Crocket Bewley with 
a wagon to bring the Osborn family to the mission. They 



20 Original, Coll. W. 



THE LAST YEAR 387 

received the Indian room in the main mission building for 
their quarters. 

Mrs. Saunders reported that her husband opened his 
school "on Monday, the nineteenth of October." 21 About that 
time the half-breed Joe Lewis appeared "sick, and in need of 
clothing." According to Spalding, Lewis was born in Canada 
and educated in Maine. He proved to be another Tom Hill. 
He spoke the English language and was, according to Spald- 
ing, a "devoted Catholic." 22 Some of the emigrants first saw 
him at Fort Hall. 

After Lewis had been at the station but a few days, Dr. 
Whitman learned through the Sager boys that he was stirring 
up trouble among the Indians. Whitman made an eifort to 
send him on his way. Learning of the need of a driver for 
an emigrant wagon, Whitman gave Lewis clothing and in- 
duced him to drive the team. Within three days he was back 
again, and remained as an unwelcome guest. He refused to 
leave. 23 All accounts of him picture him as a treacherous, 
unprincipled scoundrel. 

There happened to be another half-breed living in an 
Indian lodge on the mission grounds, who was of the same 
stamp as Joe Lewis. His name was Nicholas Finley, once in 
the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company. His lodge be- 
came the headquarters for the conspirators. It seems that 
Whitman had hired both Stanfield and Finley to work for 
the mission that winter. 

On November 7, W. D. Canfield, of Oskaloosa, Iowa, ar- 
rived with his wife and five children. 24 Every available 
room was taken and for a time they had to camp out. Finally 
quarters, such as they were, were found in the blacksmith 
shop which stood about midway between the two main build- 
ings. With their arrival the total number of emigrants was 
raised to fifty. 

On Monday, November 22, Spalding arrived at Waiilatpu 
with his daughter Eliza, who was to be placed in the school. 
Earlier in the fall, the two half-breed sons of Donald Man- 
son, an employee of the Hudson's Bay Company, were sent 
to attend the Whitman school. Thus the list of those at the 



21 Saunders, The Whitman Massacre, p. 19. She made a mistake 
as to the day. Monday was the 18th. 

22 Warren, Memoirs, p. 119. 

23 Gray, Oregon, pp. 468 and 500. 

24 Bancroft, Oregon, Vol. 1, p. 662, states that Canfield had laid 
out the town of Oskaloosa, Iowa. 



y 



388 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

station on the fateful Monday, November 29, 1847, was 
completed. They included the following, the ages of the 
children being given in parentheses : 25 

Main mission house Total 23 

Dr. and Mrs. Marcus Whitman 

The seven Sager children John (17), Francisco (15), Catherine 
(13), Elizabeth (10), Matilda (8), Louise (6), and Henrietta (4) 
Five half-breed children Mary Ann Bridger (11), Helen Mar 
Meek (10), David Malin (8), and the two Manson boys (17) and 
(16) 

Eliza Spalding (10) 

Andrew Rodgers, Crocket Bewley, Lorinda Bewley 
Mr. and Mrs. Josiah Osborn Nancy A. (9), John L. (9), Alex- 
ander (2) 

Mansion house 29 

Mr. and Mrs. L. W. Saunders Helen M. (14), Phoebe (10), Al- 
fred (6), Nancy (4), and Mary A. (2) 

Mrs. Rebecca Hays Henry Clay (4) 

Mr. and Mrs. Peter D. Hall Gertrude (10), Mary C. (8), Ann 
E. (6), Rebecca (3), Rachel (1) 

Mr. and Mrs. Nathan "L. Kimball Susan M. (16), Nathan (12), 
Byron E. (8), Sarah S. (?), and Mina A. (1) 
Mr. Walter Marsh Mary E. (11), and grandson, Alba Lyman (2) 
Isaac Gilliland, Jacob Hoffmann, Joseph Stanfield 

Blacksmith shop 8 

Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Canfield Ellen (16), Oscar (9), Clarissa (7), 
Sylvia (5), and Albert (3) 

Amos Sales 

Sawmill cabin 12 

Mr. and Mrs. Elam Young James (24), Daniel (21), and John 
Q. (19) 

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Smith Mary (15), Edwin (13), Charles (11), 
Nelson (6), and Mortimer (4) 

Others 2 

Nicholas Finley and Joe Lewis 

Grand total 74 

Not counting the adult half-breeds and the French 
Canadian, the Whitmans found themselves responsible for 
the welfare of sixty-nine men, women, and children, besides 
themselves. Fifty of these were emigrants. The other nine- 



25 One of the Osborn children died of the measles after the arrival 
of the family at Waiilatpu. One name usually omitted from this list 
is that of Alba Lyman, the grandson of Walter Marsh. Oregon States- 
man, Nov. 6, 1936, gives his story. 



THE LAST YEAR 



389 



teen included the members of their family, the schoolchildren 
entrusted to their care, and the Osborn family. All of the 
actors in that final tragic scene were on the stage. 26 



26 For lists of the people at Waiilatpu see : Spalding, Senate Docu- 
ment No. 37, p. 27 (gives seventy-two names omitting Alba Lyman 
and Finley) ; Cannon, Waiilatpu, pp. 106-7 (gives seventy-two names 
omitting Alba Lyman and Nathan Kimball, Jr.) ; Bancroft, Oregon, 
Vol. 1, pp. 647-8 (lists only sixty-eight, omitting Alba Lyman, Gilli- 
land, Joe Lewis, Nicholas Finley, Joseph Stanfield, and one of the 
Sager children). For other lists see Eells, Marcus Whitman, pp. 
287-8, and T.O.P.A., 1896. 



CHAPTER NINETEEN 

THE MASSACRE 
1840 

BOTH the covered wagon and the tepee were to be seen 
at Waiilatpu. The one carried an aggressive people 
who were seeking new lands to settle, while the other shel- 
tered an indolent people who looked with suspicion upon 
the ever-increasing encroachments of the whites. Waiilatpu 
became the focal point of trouble because of its geographical 
location. There two civilizations overlapped, with the in- 
evitable clash of ideas. 

The massacre, which was started on November 29, 1847, 
came as the inevitable result of a combination of causes. 
The presence of the Catholics may have, unwittingly on 
their part, fanned the flames, but the tragedy would surely 
have occurred if the Catholics had never been present. 
Whitman's deep interest in the political affairs of Oregon 
was certainly an important cause for the tragedy. Grad- 
ually the conviction grew in his heart that the Indian race 
was doomed. It never could hold the country before the 
aggressive whites. In time the Indians came to suspect his 
position. Latent fears regarding the white man's intentions 
prepared their minds for the vile slanders whispered by 
rascally half-breeds. They came to believe that Marcus 
Whitman was their enemy. 

One of the strongest ties which bound the Whitmans to 
their mission station in the face of repeated dangers and 
even of the warnings of friends was the emigrant. Each 
year, beginning with 1843, the Whitman mission had been 
a place of refuge. The naked were clothed, the hungry fed, 
the sick were cared for, the orphans were sheltered, and 
the gospel of Christ's redeeming love was preached to all 
who would pause to listen. The Whitmans looked into the 
years ahead and realized that the westward movement had 
but begun. Thousands upon thousands more were still to 
come, and perhaps for them the Whitmans stayed. 

The emigration of 1847 brought in a virulent form of 
measles and a dysentery which spread with devastating 
rapidity through all of Old Oregon, leaving in its wake an 



THE MASSACRE 391 

appalling list of dead. The appearance of these diseases 
was like the proverbial straw which broke the camel's back. 
According to one report the disease made its appearance 
among the Cayuses during the first part of October, when 
an Indian child died at Fort Walla Walla. 1 By the first of 
November many were sick, and some of the emigrants at 
Waiilatpu were likewise prostrated. 

The fact that the white people usually recovered, while 
the Indians did not, increased the resentment of the In- 
dians against those who introduced the disease. Moreover, 
its being a white man's disease, as they thought, they ex- 
pected Dr. Whitman to be able to cure all cases. Dr. Whit- 
man's work was complicated by the insistence of many of 
the Indians on taking the old sweat-bath cure. Mrs. Saun- 
ders reported that this method of treatment almost always 
resulted in death. 2 

On November 8, Mrs. Osborn was taken seriously ill 
with the disease and on the 14th gave birth to a girl, who 
died shortly afterwards and was buried the next day. On 
the 16th little six-year-old Salvijane Osborn became ill, and 
she died on the 24th. All of the other Osborn children were 
likewise ill for a time, but they recovered. Years after- 
ward Nancy Osborn wrote of the death of her sister as 
follows : 

An Indian came into the room where the form of my sister lay. 
Mrs. Whitman asked leave to show him the dead child. She wanted 
the Indians to know the measles were killing the white people as well 
as the Indians and thus hoped to allay the growing distrust of the red 
men. The Indian looked long at my sister, then cruelly he laughed, 
to see the pale face dead. 3 

Mrs. Saunders in her account of the tragedy mentions 
the death of the Osborn child. She tells of how Mrs. Whit- 
man tried to comfort the grief -stricken mother by saying : 
"Perhaps God thought it for the best that your little child 
should be called away; it may calm the Indians to see a 
white child taken as well as so many natives, for otherwise 
we may all be compelled to leave within two weeks." Mrs. 
Saunders reports that the child was buried on the 24th and 
that Tiloukaikt was among those who attended the funeral. 



1 Nancy Osborn Jacobs, Waitsburg Times, Feb. 2, 1934. 

2 Saunders, The Whitman Massacre, p. 9. According to this cus- 
tom, a sick Indian would get into a small hut in which water would 
be thrown upon hot stones, thus causing steam. After spending some 
time in the steam, he would run out and plunge into a cold stream. 

3 Jacobs, op. cit. 



L 



392 MARCUS WHITMAN, M.D., PIONEER AND MARTYR 

We regret that we have no writings of either of the 
Whitmans during the month or six weeks prior to the final 
tragedy. The story of what took place must be gleaned 
from the testimony of others. Two or more witnesses of 
the same event will not always tell the same story, so we find 
differences in the various accounts which have come down 
to us of the closing days of the mission at Waiilatpu. Some- 
times these differences can be reconciled, and sometimes 
they cannot. Moreover, some of the accounts were written 
many years later by those who were but children at the 
time the events described took place. Due allowance must 
be made for the fallibility of human memory. 

Of this we can be assured, both Dr. and Mrs. Whitman 
were aware of the growing danger but saw no way out ex- 
cept to stay where they were and do the best they could 
to minister to the sick and keep the Indians peaceful. Even 
if they considered moving how were they to move so 
many without arousing the Indians and precipitating trou- 
ble, and, besides, where were they to go? To the Fort? 
As later events proved, McBean would have given them a 
reluctant welcome. He was not prepared to defend so many 
from a hostile tribe. While McBean may not have been 
the scoundrel he was painted to be, yet even Bancroft de- 
clares that: "McBean was 'below the salt' when compared 
with other gentlemen in the company." 4 Whitman no doubt 
realized his attitude and felt that it was useless to look in 
that direction for aid in a crisis. The fact that Mrs. Saun- 
ders quoted Mrs. Whitman as saying that they might have 
to move within two weeks is proof that Marcus and Nar- 
cissa had discussed that possibility. Whitman has been 
criticized for remaining at Waiilatpu under the circum- 
stances, but perhaps that was the lesser of two evils and 
gave greater promise of security than attempting to flee. 

With anxious hearts and prayerful souls, the Whitmans 
gave themselves to their ministry. Nancy Osborn in her 
adult life recalled an incident of those days which has been 
handed down by word of mouth to this generation. One 
day Dr. Whitman entered the house very tired. His wife 
in an endeavor to cheer him up, said: "Come Marcus, let 
us sing/' She gave him a book, but the Doctor sank down 
on a chair and said: "I can't sing. I am so tired I could 
not hold up the book." Then little nine-year-old Nancy 
went to him and said: "Lean on me. I will help you to 



4 Bancroft, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 661. 



THE MASSACRE 393 

stand up." The heart of the Doctor was touched by the 
child's solicitude, and he gathered her in his arms and put 
her on his lap. 5 

According to Mrs. Saunders, five of the children in the 
Whitman home, some of whom were the Sager children, 
became ill. She also states that Dr. Whitman spoke of the 
danger involved in the Indians' method of treatment. Ban- 
croft gives one little incident which may have seemed very 
important to the Indians. On August 23, some Cayuses 
and Walla Walla Indians at The Dalles had killed an emi- 
grant by the name of Sheppard. Later, after Whitman's 
return to his station, he happened to meet one of the Cayuse 
Indians who was perhaps involved in the murder. Whitman 
to rebuke him refused to shake han